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1478 -1529 

Reduced  from  Braun's  photograph  (no.  11.505)  of  the  portrait  ia  the  Louvre,  painted  in 
1516  by  Raphael  (1483- 1530).  The  original  belonged  to  Charles  I  of  England,  after 
whose  death  it  was  bought  by  a  Dutch  collector  and  copied  by  Rubens.  Later  it 
became  the  property  of  Cardinal  Mazarin,  from  whose  heirs  it  vras  acquired  for  Louis 
XIV  of  France 

The  medallion  on  the  title-page  is  from  a  photograph,  specially  made  by  Mansell,  of  a  cast, 
kindly  furnished  by  T.  Whitcombe  Greene,  Esq.,  of  an  anonymous  medal  in  his  collec- 
tion at  Chandler's  Ford,  Hampshire.  See  the  late  Alfred  Armand's  Zes  MMailleurt 
Ilalifns,  a,  100,  00. 10. 











Copyright,  1901,  1903,  by 
LioNABB  Eckstein  Opdycki 

The  Book  of  the  Courtier  was  written, 
partly  at  Urbino  and  partly  at  Rome,  be- 
tween the  years  1508  and  1.S16.  and  was  first 
printed  at  the  Aldine  Press,  Venice,  in  the 
month  of  April,  1528. 

There  have  since  been  published  more  than  one 
hundred  and  forty  editions,  a  list  of  which 
will  be  found  at  page  417  of  this  volume. 
The  first  Spanish  version,  by  Juan  Boscan 
Almogaver,  was  issued  at  Barcelona  in 
1534;  the  first  French  version,  by  Jacques 
Colin,  was  issued  at  Paris  in  1537 ;  the  first 
English  version,  by  THOMAS  HOBY,  was  is- 
sued at  London  in  1561 ;  the  first  Latin  ver- 
sion, by  Hieronymus  Turler,  was  issued 
at  Wittenberg  in  1561 ;  the  first  German  ver- 
sion, by  LoRENZ  Kratzer,  was  issued  at 
Munich  in  1566. 


Reasons  for  presenting  this  old  book  anew  were  found  in  the  esteem  that  it 
long  enjoyed,  in  the  rank  still  held  by  it  in  Italian  literature,  and  in  the  fact 
that,  of  three  former  English  versions,  the  first  (recently  twice  reprinted)  is 
too  antiquated  to  be  readily  intelligible  to  the  general  reader,  while  the  other 
two  (published  more  than  one  hundred  and  fifty  years  ago)  are  seldom  met  in 
any  but  large  public  libraries. 

When  Castiglione  wrote,  the  sturdy  Knight  of  earlier  ages  had  become  the 
accomplished  Courtier.  In  describing  this  new  hero,  the  author  gave  utter- 
ance to  the  finest  aspirations  of  his  day.  Life  was,  it  is  true,  sometimes  gross 
and  violent,  but  even  if  the  delicate  and  gentle  beauty  of  Renaissance  art 
furnished  us  no  evidence,  these  pages  would  suffice  to  show  that  a  loftier 
standard^ofjhought^and  conduct  had  been  raised.^  The  book  will  not  lack 
interest  until  mankind  ceases  to  be  interesting  to  man,  and  will  reward  study 
so  long  as  the  past  shall  continue  to  instruct  the  present  and  the  future. 

The  only  deviations  that  the  translator  has  consciously  made  from  the 
letter  of  the  original  were  deemed  necessary  to  render  its  meaning  clear. 
The  notes  that  he  offers  are  intended  to  give  further  light  on  obscure  pas- 
sages and  to  relieve  the  reader  from  the  tedium  of  searching  in  books  of  ref- 
erence. No  one,  perhaps,  will  take  it  amiss  to  be  reminded  of  what  all  may 
have  known  but  few  are  able  to  remember  with  precision. 

The  translator  desires  to  repeat  his  thanks  for  the  friendly  encouragement 
that  he  received  from  Miss  Grace  Norton,  at  whose  suggestion  his  task  was 
undertaken.  He  is  indebted  to  Dr.  Luigi  Roversi  and  Signor  Leopoldo  Jung 
for  patient  aid,  to  Professor  Hastings  Crossley  for  revision  of  the  notes,  and 
to  Signor  Alessandro  Luzio  and  other  scholars  for  the  kindness  with  which 
they  contributed  iconographical  and  bibliographical  data.  He  gratefully 
acknowledges,  also,  his  constant  use  of  the  material  contained  in  Professor 
Vittorio  Cian's  admirable  edition  of  the  text. 

The  second  issue  of  the  present  translation  has  afforded  opportunity  for 
some  corrections. 


(The  Arabic  numerals  given  below  refer  to  the  numbered  parag^raphs 
into  wliicli  it  has  long  been  customary  to  divide  the  work) 




Reasons  for  writing  the  book,  and  for  at  first  delaying  and  afterwards  hastening  its 
publication.  Lament  at  the  recent  death  of  several  persons  mentioned  in  the  book. 
Answer  to  three  objections:  that  the  book  was  not  written  in  the  language  of  Boc- 
caccio; that,  as  it  is  impossible  to  find  a  perfect  Courtier,  it  was  superfluous  to  de- 
scribe one ;  and  that  the  author  presumed  to  paint  his  own  portrait. 


I :  The  book  written  at  the  instance  of  Alfonso  Ariosto  and  in  dialogue  form,  in  order 
to  record  certain  discussions  held  at  the  court  of  Urbino.  2-3 :  Description  and 
praise  of  Urbino  and  its  lords;  Duke  Federico  and  his  son  Guidobaldo.  4-5:  The 
Urbino  court  and  the  persons  taking  part  in  the  discussions.  6 :  Circumstances 
that  led  to  the  discussions;  visit  of  Pope  Julius  II.  7-11 :  Various  games  proposed. 
12  :  Game  finally  chosen  :  to  describe  a  perfect  Courtier.  13-6  :  Canossa  begins  the 
discussion  by  enumerating  some  of  the  conditions  essential  to  the  Courtier, — espe- 
cially gentle  birth.  17-8  :  Arms  the  true  profession  of  the  Courtier,  who  must,  how- 
ever, avoid  arrogance  and  boasting.  19-22  :  Physical  qualities  and  martial  exercises. 
23  :  Short  bantering  digression.  24-6  :  Grace.  27-8  :  Affectation.  29-39  '■  Literary 
and  conversational  style.  40 :  Women's  affectations.  41 :  Moral  qualities.  42-6 : 
Literary  accomplishments;  arms  vs.  letters.  47-8:  Music.  49:  Painting.  50-3: 
Painting  vs.  sculpture.  54-6  :  Arrival  of  the  youthful  Francesco  Maria  della  Rovere; 
the  evening's  entertainment  ends  with  dancing. 


1-4:  Reasons  why  the  aged  are  wont  to  laud  the  past  and  to  decry  the  present;  de- 
fence of  the  present  against  such  aspersions;  praise  of  the  court  of  Urbino.  5-6: 
Federico  Fregoso  begins  the  discussion  on  the  way  and  time  of  employing  the  quali- 
ties and  accomplishments  described  by  Canossa :  utility  of  such  discussion.  7-8 : 
General  rules :  to  avoid  affectation,  to  speak  and  act  discreetly  and  opportunely,  to 
aim  at  honour  and  praise  in  martial  exercises,  war,  and  public  contests.  9-10 :  Other 
physical  exercises.  11 :  Dancing  and  masquerading.  12-3  :  Music  of  various  kinds, 
when  to  be  practised.  14  :  Aged  Courtiers  not  to  engage  publicly  in  music  and  dan- 
cing. 15-6  :  Duty  of  aged  and  youthful  Courtiers  to  moderate  the  faults  peculiar  to  their 
years.  17-25:  Conversation,  especially  with  superiors;  how  to  win  favours  worthily. 
26-8  :  Dress  and  ornament ;  lamentable  lack  of  fashions  peculiarly  Italian.  29-30  : 
Choice  and  treatment  of  friends.  31 :  Games  of  cards  and  chess.  32-5  :  Influence  of 
preconceived  opinions  and  first  impressions ;  advantage  of  being  preceded  by  good 
reputation.  36 :  Danger  of  going  beyond  bounds  in  the  effort  to  be  amusing.  37 : 
French  and  Spanish  manners.  38  :  Tact,  modesty,  kindness,  readiness ;  taking  ad- 
vantage of  opportunities ;  confession  of  ignorance.  39-41 :  Self-depreciation,  deceit, 
moderation.  42-83:  Pleasantries  and  witticisms  expounded  by  Bibbiena.  84-97: 
Practical  jokes;  to  be  used  discreetly,  particularly  where  women  are  concerned;  use 
of  trickery  and  artifice  in  love ;  dignity  and  nobility  of  women.  98-100 :  Giuliano  de' 
Medici  chosen  to  describe  the  perfect  Court  Lady. 




I :  Excellence  of  the  court  of  Urbino  to  be  estimated  in  much  the  same  way  in  which 
Pythagoras  calculated  the  stature  of  Hercules.  2-3  :  Bantering  preliminaries  to  the 
discussion  on  the  Court  Lady.  4  :  Qualities  common  to  the  Courtier  and  to  the  Court 
Lady.  5-6 :  The  Court  Lady  to  be  affable,  modest  and  decorous;  to  follow  a  middle 
course  between  prudishness  and  over-freedom ;  to  avoid  scandal-mongering ;  her 
conversation  to  have  variety.  7-9:  Physical  and  mental  exercises  of  the  Court 
Lady;  her  dress.  10-8:  Women's  importance;  certain  aspersions  refuted.  19-20: 
Examples  of  saintly  women  contrasted  with  hypocritical  friars.  21-7  :  Examples  of 
women  famous  for  virtue,  manly  courage,  constancy  in  love,  pudicity.  28-33  '•  Exam- 
ples of  women  who  in  ancient  times  did  good  service  to  the  world  in  letters,  in  the 
sciences,  in  public  life,  in  war.  34-6  :  More  recent  examples  of  women  noted  for  their 
virtue.  37-49:  Chastity  and  continence.  50:  Dangers  to  which  womanly  virtue  is 
exposed.  51-3 :  Further  praise  of  women.  53-5 :  The  Court  Lady's  demeanour  in 
love  talk.  56-9 :  Her  conduct  in  love.  60-73  :  The  way  to  win  and  keep  a  woman's 
love ;  its  effects  and  signs  ;  secrecy  in  love.  74-5  :  Pallavicino's  aspersions  against 
women.  76-7  :  Ottaviano  Fregoso  is  deputed  to  expound  the  other  qualities  that  add  • 
to  the  Courtier's  perfections. 


1-2  :  Eulogy  of  several  other  interlocutors  whose  death  had  recently  occurred.  3-6 : 
Ottaviano  Fregoso  resumes  the  interrupted  discussion,  considers  the  Courtier's  rela- 
tions with  his  prince,  and  urges  the  duty  of  employing  his  qualities  and  accomplish- 
ments so  that  his  prince  may  be  led  to  seek  good  and  shun  evil.  7-10 :  Princes'  need 
to  know  the  truth,  their  difficulty  in  finding  it,  and  the  Courtier's  duty  to  encourage 
them  in  the  path  of  virtue.  n-2  :  Virtue  not  wholly  innate,  but  susceptible  of  culti- 
vation. 13-6  :  Ignorance  the  source  of  nearly  all  human  errour.  17-8  :  Temperance 
the  perfect  virtue,  because  it  is  the  fountain  of  virtues.  19-24 :  Monarchy  vs.  com- 
monwealth. 25-6 :  Whether  a  contemplative  or  an  active  life  is  more  befitting  a 
prince.  27-8:  Peace  the  aim  of  war ;  the  virtues  befitting  each.  29:  Right  training 
of  princes  to  begin  in  habit  and  to  be  confirmed  by  reason.  30 :  Humourous  digres- 
sion. 31:  Governo  mlsto.  32-5:  Attributesof  a  good  prince  :  justice,  devoutness,  love 
of  his  subjects,  and  mild  sway.  36-9  :  Grand  public  works;  the  Crusades;  eulogy  of 
several  young  princes.  40 :  Princes  must  avoid  certain  extremes.  41 :  Princes  must 
attend  to  details  personally.  42 :  Eulogy  of  the  youthful  Federico  Gonzaga.  43-8  : 
Arguments  supporting  the  theory  that  the  Courtier's  highest  aim  is  the  instruction  of 
his  prince.  49-52:  Whether  the  Courtier  ought  to  be  in  love;  Bembo  appointed  to 
discourse  on  love  and  beauty.  53-4 :  Evils  and  perils  of  sensual  love.  55-6  :  Di- 
gression concerning  the  love  of  old  men.  57-60 :  True  beauty,  the  reflection  of 
goodness.  61-4:  In  what  manner  the  unyouthful  Courtier  ought  to  love;  rational 
love  contrasted  with  sensual  love.  65-7  :  Contemplation  of  abstract  beauty.  68-9 : 
Contemplation  of  divine  beauty.  70-1:  Bembo's  invocation  to  the  Holy  Spirit.  72: 
Instances  in  which  a  vision  of  divine  beauty  has  been  granted  to  mortals.  73:  Ter- 
mination of  the  discussion  at  dawn. 

PRELIMINARY   NOTES,— Life  of  the  Author,  etc 313 







INDEX 423 



1  BALDESAR  CASTIGLIONE,  Count  of  Novillara;  Raphael; Frontispiece 

2  BALDESAR  CASTIGLIONE;  anonymous  medal  (obverse  and  reverse);       .      .      Title-page 

Facing  page 

3  GUIDOBALDO  DI  MONTEFELTRO,  Duke  of  Urbino;  Timoteo  della  Vite;  ...        i 

4  GUIDOBALDO  DI  MONTEFELTRO;  Melozzo  degliAmbrosi  da  Forli  (?);      ...        g 

5  ELISABETTA  GONZAGA,  Duchess  of  Urbino  ;  Bonsignori  (?) ; la 

6  COUNT  LUDOVICO  DA  CANOSSA;  anonymous; ao 



9  BERNARDO  DOVIZI  DA  BIBBIENA;  Raphael  (?); 123 

10    AUTOGRAPHS; 169 

H     GIULIANO  DE'  MEDICI;  Alessandro  Allori; 175 

12  EMILIA  PIA  ;  medal  by  Giancristoforo  Romano  (?) ; 200 

13  BERNARDO  ACCOLTI,  the  "Unico  Aretino;"  Giorgio  Vasari; 228 

14  FRANCESCO  MARIA  DELLA  ROVERE,"  My  Lord  Prefect;"  Titian;      ....    244 

15  PIETRO  BEMBO ;  medal  by  Benvenuto  Cellini  (?) ; a83 



ELISABETTA  GONZAGA,  wife  of  Guidobaldo  di  Montefeltro,  Duke  of  Urbino.    Aged  46. 

EMILIA    PIA,  friend  and  companion  of  the  Duchess,  and  widow  of  the  Duke's  half-brother. 
Aged  about  30. 

MARGARITA   GONZAGA,  young  niece  and  companion  of  the  Duchess. 

COSTANZA    FREGOSA,  young  half-niece  of  the  Duke. 

FRANCESCO    MARIA   DELLA   ROVERE,  nephew  and  adopted  heir  of  the  Duke.     Aged  17. 

Count  LUDOVICO  DA  CANOSSA,  a  kinsman  of  the  author,  afterwards  made  Bishop  of  Bayeux. 
Aged  31. 

FEDERICO   FREGOSO,  half-nephew  of  the  Duke,  afterwards  made  a  cardinal.    Aged  27. 

GIULIANO   DE'    MEDICI,  an  exile  from  Florence,  known  at  Urbino  as  "My  lord  Magnifico," 
and  afterwards  made  Duke  of  Nemours.     Aged  29. 

BERNARDO  DO  VIZI,  better  known  as  BIBBIEN  A,  an  adherent  of  the  Medici,  afterwards  made 
a  cardinal.     Aged  37. 

OTTAVIANO   FREGOSO,  elder  brother  of  Costanza  and  Federico,  afterwards  Doge  of  Genoa. 

PIETRO    BEMBO,  a  Venetian  scholar  and  poet,  afterwards  made  a  cardinal.     Aged  37. 

CESARE   GONZAGA,  a  kinsman  of  the  Duchess,  and  cousin  as  well  as  close  friend  of  the  author. 
Aged  about  32. 

BERNARDO   ACCOLTI,  better  known  as  the  UNICO  ARETINO,  a  courtier-poet  and  popular 
eztemporizer.     Aged  about  42. 

Count   GASPAR   PALLAVICINO.     Aged  21. 

GIANCRISTOFORO    ROMANO,  a  sculptor,  medallist,  etc.     Aged  about  42. 

COLLO  VINCENZO   CALMETA,  a  courtier-poet. 

LUDOVICO   PIO,  a  brave  young  soldier,  and  kinsman  of  Emilia  Pia. 

SIGISMONDO   MORELLO   DA  ORTONA,  an  elderly  courtier. 

Marquess  FEBUS   DI   CEVA, 


}■  courtiers. 


Fra  SERAFINO,  a  jester, 

Time :  March  1507. 
Place :  The  Palace  of  Urbino.; 





Reversed  enlargement  of  a  part  of  Alinari^s  photograph  (no.  17.565)  of  a  painting  in  the 
Cathedral  at  Urbino,  by  Timoteo  della  Vite  (1469?-I523).  The  picture  represents  Saints 
Martin  and  Thomas,  with  kneeling  figures  of  Bishop  Arrivabeni  and  Duke  Quidobaldo. 




I.— When  my  lord  Guidobaldo  di  Montefeltro/  Duke  of  Ur- 
bino,  passed  from  this  life,  I,  together  with  several  other  cavaliers 
who  had  served  him,  remained  in  the  service  of  Duke  Francesco 
Maria  della  Rovere,'  his  heir  and  successor  in  the  State.  And  as 
the  recollection  of  Duke  Guido's  character  was  fresh  in  my  mind, 
and  the  delight  I  had  during  those  years  in  the  kind  companion- 
ship of  the  notable  persons  who  at  that  time  frequented  the  Court 
of  Urbino,  I  was  moved  by  their  memory  to  write  these  books  of 
the  Courtier,  which  I  did  in  a  few  days,*  purposing  in  time  to 
correct  those  errours  that  arose  from  the  wish  to  pay  this  debt 
speedily.  But  for  many  years  past  fortune  has  burdened  me 
with  toil  so  constant  that  I  never  could  find  leisure  to  make  the 
book  such  as  would  content  even  my  poor  judgment. 

Now  being  in  Spain,'  and  learning  from  Italy  that  my  lady 
Vittoria  della  Colonna,  Marchioness  of  Pescara,"  to  whom  I  gave 
a  copy  of  the  book,  had  against  her  word  caused  a  large  part  of 
it  to  be  transcribed,  I  could  not  but  feel  some  annoyance,  fearing 
the  many  inconveniences  that  may  befall  in  such  cases.  Still,  I 
relied  upon  the  wit  and  good  sense  of  this  lady  (whose  character 
I  have  always  held  in  veneration  as  a  thing  divine)  to  prevent 
any  mischief  coming  to  me  from  having  obeyed  her  wishes.  Fi- 
nally I  was  informed  that  this  part  of  the  book  was  in  the  hands 
of  many  people  at  Naples;  and  as  men  are  always  eager  for  any- 
thing new,  it  seemed  likely  that  someone  might  try  to  have  it 
printed.'  Alarmed  at  this  peril,  then,  I  resolved  to  revise  the 
book  at  once  so  far  as  I  had  time,  with  intent  to  publish  it;  for  I 
thought  better  to  let  it  be  seen  imperfectly  corrected  by  my  own 
hand  than  grievously  mutilated  by  the  hand  of  others. 

And  so,  to  carry  out  this  plan,  I  began  to  read  the  book  again; 
and  touched  at  the  very  outset  by  the  title,  I  was  saddened  not  a 
little,  and  far  more  so  as  I  went  on,  by  the  thought  that  most 


of  the  personages  introduced  in  the  discussion  were   already 
dead;  for  besides  those  mentioned  in  the  proem  of  the  last  Book, 
messer  Alfonso  Ariosto'  (to  whom  the  work  is  dedicated)  is  also 
dead,  a  gracious  youth,  considerate,  of  the  highest  breeding,  and 
apt  in  everything  proper  to  a  man  who  lives  at  court.     Likewise 
Duke  Giuliano  de'  Medici,'  whose  kindness  and  noble  courtesy 
deserved  to  be  enjoyed  longer  by  the  world,    Messer  Bernardo,'" 
Cardinal  of  Santa  Maria  in  Portico,  who  for  his  keen  and  playful 
readiness  of  wit  was  most  delightful  to  all  that  knew  him,  he,  too, 
is  dead.     Dead  also  is  my  lord  Ottaviano  Fregoso,"  a  man  very 
rare  in  our  times:   magnanimous,  devout,  full  of  kindness,  talent, 
good  sense,  and  courtesy,  a  true  lover  of  honour  and  merit,  and  so 
worthy  of  praise  that  his  very  enemies  were  ever  forced  to  praise 
him;  and  the  misadventures  that  he  bore  so  bravely  were  enough 
to  prove  that  fortune  is  still,  as  always,  adverse  to  merit.     And 
of  those  mentioned  in  my  book  many  more  besides  are  dead,  to 
ir    ,  whom  nature  seemed  to  promise  very  long  life. 
"^v  /      But  what  should  not  be  told  without  tears   is  that  my  lady 
J^      Duchess,"  too,  is  dead.    And  if  my  heart  mourns  the  loss  of  so 
•vs'        many  friends  and  patrons,  who  have  left  me  in  this  life  as  in  a 
'  ^        solitude  full  of  sorrows,  it  is  meet  that  I  grieve  more  bitterly  for 
the  death  of  my  lady  Duchess  than  of  all  the  others ;   for  she  was 
/y^    more  precious  than  they,  and  I  more  bound  to  her  than  to  all  the 
Ki         others.     Nottodelay,  then,  the  tribute  that  I  owe  the  memory  of  so 
^         excellent  a  Lady  and  of  the  others  who  are  no  more,  and  moved 
also  by  the  danger  to  my  book,  I  have  had  it  printed  and  pub- 
lished in  such  state  as  the  shortness  of  time  permitted. 

And  since  you  had  no  knowledge  in  their  lifetime  either  of  my 
lady  Duchess  or  of  the  others  who  are  dead  (except  Duke  Giu- 
liano and  the  Cardinal  of  Santa  Maria  in  Portico),  in  order  to 
give  you  that  knowledge  after  their  death  as  far  as  I  can,  I  send 
you  this  book  as  a  picture  of  the  Court  of  Urbino,  not  by  the  hand 
of  RaphaeP"  or  Michelangelo,*"  but  of  a  humble  painter,  who 
knows  only  how  to  trace  the  chief  lines,  and  cannot  adorn  truth 
with  bright  colouring,  or  by  perspective  art  make  that  which  is 
not  seem  to  be.  And  although  I  tried  to  show  forth  in  their  dis- 
course the  qualities  and  character  of  my  personages,  I  own  I  failed 
to  express  or  even  to  suggest  the  excellences  of  my  lady  Duchess, 



not  only  because  my  style  is  inadequate  to  describe  them,  but  be- 
cause my  intelligence  fails  even  to  conceive  of  them;"  and  if  I  be 
censured  for  this  or  any  other  matter  worthy  of  censure  (for  I 
well  know  that  my  book  contains  many  such),  I  shall  not  gain- 
say the  truth. 

2.— But  as  men  sometimes  so  delight  in  finding  fault  that  they 
reprehend  even  that  which  does  not  merit  reprehension,  to  such 
as  blame  me  because  I  did  not  imitate  Boccaccio  '*  or  conform  to 
the  usages  of  present  Tuscan  speech,  I  shall  not  refrain  from  say- 
ing that  while,  for  his  time,  Boccaccio  had  a  charming  faculty  and 
often  wrote  with  care  and  diligence,  yet  he  wrote  far  better  when 
he  followed  only  the  guidance  of  his  natural  wit  and  instinct, 
without  further  thought  or  care  to  polish  his  writings,  than  when 
he  strove  industriously  and  laboriously  to  be  more  refined  and 
correct.  For  this  reason  even  his  followers  declare  that  he 
greatly  erred  in  judgment  concerning  his  own  works,  holding 
cheap  what  did  him  honour"  and  prizing  what  was  worthless. 
Therefore,  if  I  had  imitated  that  manner  of  writing  which  in  Boc- 
caccio is  censured  by  those  who  elsewise  praise  him,  I  should 
not  have  been  able  to  escape  those  same  aspersions  that  were 
cast  on  him  in  this  regard;  and  I  should  have  more  deserved 
them,  because  he  committed  his  faults  thinking  he  was  doing 
well,  while  I  should  have  known  I  was  doing  ill.  Again,  if  I  had 
imitated  the  style  now  admired  by  many  but  less  esteemed  by 
him,  it  seemed  to  me  that  by  such  imitation  I  should  show  myself 
at  variance  with  him  whom  I  was  imitating,  a  thing  I  deemed 
unseemly.  And  again,  if  this  consideration  had  not  moved  me,  I 
was  not  able  to  imitate  him  in  my  subject-matter,  for  he  never 
wrote  anything  at  all  in  the  manner  of  these  books  of  the  Cour- 
tier; and  I  thought  I  ought  not  to  imitate  him  in  language,  be- 
cause the  power  and  true  law  of  good  speech  consist  rather  in 
usage  than  in  aught  else,  and  it  is  always  a  bad  habit  to  employ 
words  not  in  use.  Therefore  it  was  not  meet  for  me  to  borrow 
many  of  Boccaccio's  words  that  were  used  in  his  day,  but  are  not 
now  used  even  by  the  Tuscans  themselves. 

Nor  was  I  willing  to  limit  myself  to  the  Tuscan  usage  of  to- 
day, because  intercourse  between  different  nations  has  always 
had  the   effect  to   transport,  as  it  were  like  merchandise,  new 



forms  of  speech  from  one  to  the  other;  and  these  endure  or  fail 
according  as  custom  accepts  or  rejects  them.  Besides  being  at- 
tested by  the  ancients,  this  is  clearly  seen  in  Boccaccio,  who  used 
so  many  French,  Spanish,  and  Provengal  words  (some  of  them 
perhaps  not  very  intelligible  to  modern  Tuscans)  that  if  they 
were  all  omitted  his  work  would  be  far  shorter. 

And  since,  in  my  opinion,  we  ought  not  to  despise  the  idiom  of 
the  other  noble  cities  of  Italy,  whither  men  resort  who  are  wise, 
witty,  and  eloquent,  wont  to  discourse  on  weighty  matters  of 
statecraft,  letters,  war,  and  commerce,  I  think  that,  of  the  words 
used  in  the  speech  of  these  places,  I  could  fitly  use  in  writing 
such  as  are  graceful  in  themselves,  elegant  to  pronounce,  and 
commonly  deemed  good  and  expressive,  although  they  might  not 
be  Tuscan  or  even  of  Italian  origin.  Moreover,  in  Tuscany,  many 
words  are  used  which  are  plainly  corruptions  of  the  Latin,  but 
which  in  Lombardy  and  other  parts  of  Italy  have  remained  pure 
and  unchanged,  and  are  so  generally  employed  by  everyone  that 
they  are  accepted  by  the  gentle  and  easily  understood  by  the  vul- 
gar. Hence  I  think  I  did  not  err  if  in  writing  I  used  some  of 
these  words,  or  preferred  what  is  whole  and  true  speech  of  my 
own  country  rather  than  what  is  corrupt  and  mutilated  from 

Neither  do  I  regard  as  sound  the  maxim  laid  down  by  many, 
that  our  common  speech  is  the  more  beautiful  the  less  it  is  like 
Latin;  nor  do  I  understand  why  one  fashion  of  speech  should  be 
accorded  so  much  greater  authority  than  another,  that,  if  the 
Tuscan  tongue  can  ennoble  debased  and  mutilated  Latin  words 
and  lend  them  such  grace  that,  mutilated  as  they  are,  they  may 
be  used  by  anyone  without  reproach  (which  is  not  denied),  the 
Lombard  or  any  other  tongue  may  not  support  these  same  Latin 
words,  pure,  whole,  precise,  and  quite  unchanged,  so  that  they  be 
tolerable.  And  truly,  just  as  to  undertake,  in  spite  of  usage,  to 
coin  new  words  or  to  preserve  old  ones  may  be  called  bold  pre- 
sumption, so  also,  besides  being  difficult,  it  seems  almost  im- 
pious to  undertake,  against  the  force  of  that  same  usage,  to  sup- 
press and  bury  alive,  as  it  were,  words  that  have  already  endured 
for  many  centuries,  protected  by  the  shield  of  custom  against  the 
envy  of  time,  and  have  maintained  their  dignity  and  splendour 



through  the  changes  in  language,  in  buildings,  in  habits  and  in 
customs,  wrought  by  the  wars  and  disasters  of  Italy. 

Hence  if  in  writing  I  have  chosen  not  to  use  those  words  of 
Boccaccio  that  are  no  longer  used  in  Tuscany,  nor  to  conform  to 
the  rule  of  those  who  deem  it  not  permissible  to  use  any  words 
that  the  Tuscans  of  to-day  do  not  use,  I  seem  to  myself  excusable. 
And  I  think  that  both  in  the  matter  and  in  the  language  of  my 
book  (so  far  as  one  language  can  aid  another),  I  have  followed 
authors  as  worthy  of  praise  as  is  Boccaccio,  Nor  do  I  believe 
that  it  ought  to  be  counted  against  me  as  a  fault  that  I  have 
elected  to  make  myself  known  rather  as  a  Lombard  speaking 
Lombard,  than  as  a  non-Tuscan  speaking  Tuscan  too  precisely, 
in  order  that  I  might  not  resemble  Theophrastus,  who  was 
detected  as  non-Athenian  by  a  simple  old  woman,  because  he 
spoke  the  Athenian  dialect  with  excess  of  care,'" 

But  as  this  subject  is  sufficiently  treated  of  in  my  first  Book,"  I 
shall  say  no  more,  except  that,  to  prevent  all  possible  discussion, 
I  grant  my  critics  that  I  do  not  know  this  Tuscan  dialect  of  theirs, 
which  is  so  difficult  and  recondite.  And  I  declare  that  I  have 
written  in  my  own  dialect,  just  as  I  speak  and  for  those  who 
speak  as  I  do;  and  in  this  I  think  I  have  wronged  no  man, 
because  it  seems  to  me  that  no  one  is  forbidden  to  write  and 
speak  in  his  own  language;  nor  is  anyone  bound  to  read  or  listen 
to  what  does  not  please  him.  Therefore  if  these  folk  do  not  care 
to  read  my  Courtier,  I  shall  not  hold  myself  in  the  least  wronged 
by  them. 

3.—  Others  say  that  since  it  is  so  very  hard  and  well  nigh  im- 
possible to  find  a  man  as  perfect  as  I  wish  the  Courtier  to  be, 
it  was  superfluous  to  write  of  him,  because  it  is  folly  to  teach 
what  cannot  be  learned.  To  these  I  make  answer  that  I  am 
content  to  have  erred  in  company  with  Plato,  Xenophon  and 
Marcus  Tullius,  leaving  on  one  side  all  discussion  about  the 
Intelligible  World  and  Ideals;  among  which,  just  as  are  in- 
cluded (according  to  those  authors)  the  ideal  of  the  perfect 
State,  of  the  perfect  King  and  of  the  perfect  Orator,"  so  also  is 
the  ideal  of  the  perfect  Courtier.  And  if  in  my  style  I  have 
failed  to  approach  the  image  of  this  ideal,  it  will  be  so  much  the 
easier  for  courtiers  to  approach  in  deeds  the  aim  and  goal  that 



I  have  set  them  by  my  writing;  and  even  if  they  fail  to  attain 
the  perfection,  such  as  it  is,  that  I  have  tried  to  express,  he  that 
approaches  nearest  to  it  will  be  the  most  perfect;  just  as  when 
many  archers  shoot  at  a  target  and  none  hit  the  very  mark, 
surely  he  that  comes  nearest  to  it  is  better  than  the  rest. 

Still  others  say  that  I  thought  to  paint  my  own  portrait,  as  if 
I  were  convinced  that  I  possessed  all  the  qualities  that  I  attrib- 
ute to  the  Courtier."  To  these  I  shall  not  indeed  deny  having 
essayed  everything  that  I  should  wish  the  Courtier  to  know; 
and  I  think  that  a  man,  however  learned,  who  did  not  know 
something  of  the  matters  treated  of  in  the  book,  could  not  well 
have  written  of  them;  but  I  am  not  so  lacking  in  self-discern- 
ment as  to  fancy  that  I  know  everything  I  have  the  wit  to 

My  defence  then  against  these  and  perhaps  many  other  accu- 
sations, I  leave  for  the  present  to  the  verdict  of  public  opinion; 
for  while  the  many  may  not  perfectly  understand,  yet  oftener 
than  not  they  scent  by  natural  instinct  the  savour  of  good  and 
bad,  and  without  being  able  to  explain  why,  they  relish  one 
thing  and  like  it,  and  reject  another  and  hate  it.  Therefore  if 
my  book  wins  general  favour,  I  shall  think  it  must  be  good  and 
ought  to  live;"*  but  if  it  fails  to  please,  I  shall  think  it  must  be 
bad  and  soon  to  be  forgot.  And  if  my  censors  be  not  satisfied 
with  the  common  verdict  of  opinion,  let  them  rest  content  with 
that  of  time,  which  in  the  end  reveals  the  hidden  defects  of 
everything,  and  being  father  of  truth  and  judge  without  passion, 
ever  passes  on  men's  writings  just  sentence  of  life  or  death. 

Baldesar  Castiglione. 



I.— Within  myself  I  have  long  doubted,  dearest  messer  Al- 
fonso, which  of  two  things  were  the  harder  for  me:  to  deny  you 
what  you  have  often  begged  of  me  so  urgently,  or  to  do  it.  For 
while  it  seemed  to  me  very  hard  to  deny  anything  (and  espe- 
cially a  thing  in  the  highest  degree  laudable)  to  one  whom  I 
love  most  dearly  and  by  whom  I  feel  myself  to  be  most  dearly 
loved,  yet  to  set  about  an  enterprise  that  I  was  not  sure  of  being 
able  to  finish,  seemed  to  me  ill  befitting  a  man  who  esteems  just 
censure  as  it  ought  to  be  esteemed.  At  last,  after  much  thought, 
I  am  resolved  to  try  in  this  matter  how  much  aid  my  assiduity 
may  gain  from  that  affection  and  intense  desire  to  please,  which 
in  other  things  are  so  wont  to  stimulate  the  industry  of  man. 

You  ask  me  then  to  write  w^hat  is  to  my  thinking  the  form  of 
Courtiership"  most  befitting  a  gentleman  who  lives  at  the  court 
of  princes,  by  which  he  may  have  the  ability  and  knowledge 
perfectly  to  serve  them  in  every  reasonable  thing,  winning 
from  them  favour,  and  praise  from  other  men;  in  short,  what 
manner  of  man  he  ought  to  be  who  may  deserve  to  be  called  a 
perfect  Courtier  w^ithout  flaw.  Wherefore,  considering  your 
request,  I  say  that  had  it  not  seemed  to  me  more  blameworthy 
to  be  reputed  somewhat  unamiable  by  you  than  too  conceited  by 
everyone  else,  I  should  have  avoided  this  task,  for  fear  of  being 
held  over  bold  by  all  who  know  how  hard  a  thing  it  is,  from 
among  such  a  variety  of  customs  as  are  in  use  at  the  courts  of 
Christendom,  to  choose  the  perfect  form  and  as  it  were  the 
flower  of  Courtiership.  For  custom  often  makes  the  same 
thing  pleasing  and  displeasing  to  us;  whence  it  sometimes  fol- 
lows that  customs,  habits,  ceremonies  and  fashions  that  once 
were  prized,  become  vulgar,  and  contrariwise  the  vulgar  become 
prized.    Thus  it  is  clearly  seen  that  use  rather  than  reason  has 



power  to  introduce  new  things  among  us,  and  to  do  away  with 
the  old;  and  he  will  often  err  who  seeks  to  determine  which  are 
perfect.  Therefore  being  conscious  of  this  and  many  other 
difficulties  in  the  subject  set  before  me  to  write  of,  I  am  con- 
strained to  offer  some  apology,  and  to  testify  that  this  errour  (if 
errour  it  may  indeed  be  called)  is  common  to  us  both,  to  the  end 
that  if  I  be  blamed  for  it,  the  blame  may  be  shared  by  you  also; 
for  your  offence  in  setting  me  a  task  beyond  my  powers  should 
not  be  deemed  less  than  mine  in  having  accepted  it. 

So  now  let  us  make  a  beginning  of  our  subject,  and  if  possible 
let  us  form  such  a  Courtier  that  any  prince  worthy  to  be  served 
by  him,  although  of  but  small  estate,**  might  still  be  called  a 
very  great  lord. 

In  these  books  we  shall  follow  no  fixed  order  or  rule  of  dis- 
tinct precepts,  such  as  are  usually  employed  in  teaching  any- 
thing whatever;  but  after  the  fashion  of  many  ancient  writers, 
we  shall  revive  a  pleasant  memory  and  rehearse  certain  dis- 
cussions that  were  held  between  men  singularly  competent  in 
such  matters;  and  although  I  had  no  part  in  them  personally, 
being  in  England  at  the  time  they  took  place, "^  yet  having  re- 
ceived them  soon  after  my  return,  from  one  who  faithfully 
reported  them  to  me,  I  will  try  to  recall  them  as  accurately  as 
my  memory  will  permit,  so  that  you  may  know  what  was  thought 
and  believed  on  this  subject  by  men  who  are  worthy  of  highest 
praise,  and  to  whose  judgment  implicit  faith  may  be  given  in  all 
things.  Nor  will  it  be  amiss  to  tell  the  cause  of  these  discus- 
sions, so  that  we  may  reach  in  orderly  manner  the  end  to  which 
our  discourse  tends. 

2 — On  the  slopes  of  the  Apennines  towards  the  Adriatic  sea, 
almost  in  the  centre  of  Italy,  there  lies  (as  everyone  knows)  the 
little  city  of  Urbino.  Although  amid  mountains,  and  less  pleas- 
ing ones  than  perhaps  some  others  that  we  see  in  many  places, 
it  has  yet  enjoyed  such  favour  of  heaven  that  the  country  round 
about  is  very  fertile  and  rich  in  crops;  so  that  besides  the  whole- 
someness  of  the  air,  there  is  great  abundance  of  everything 
needful  for  human  life.  But  among  the  greatest  blessings  that 
can  be  attributed  to  it,  this  I  believe  to  be  the  chief,  that  for  a 
long  time  it  has  ever  been  ruled  by  the  best  of  lords;"  although 


OHTJanaTMOM  la  oajAaoaxuo 

Prom  AIinari'8  photograph  (no.  7351)  of  the  portrait,  in  the  Colonna  Gallery  at  Rome, 
variously  attributed  to  Raphael's  father,  Giovanni  Santi  (1440?- 1494),  and  (by  Morelli) 
to  Melozzo  degli  Ambrosi  da  Forli  (1438- 1494).  Schmarzow's  iconographical  identifi- 
cation of  this  portrait  (formerly  supposed  to  represent  Raphael  as  a  boy)  is  confirmed 
by  its  close  resemblance  to  the  young  duke's  features  as  shown  on  coins  issued  in  the 
early  years  of  his  reign. 


in  the  calamities  of  the  universal  wars  of  Italy,  it  was  for  a 
season  deprived  of  them.**  But  without  seeking  further,  we  can 
give  good  proof  of  this  by  the  glorious  memory  of  Duke  Fed- 
erico,'"  who  in  his  day  was  the  light  of  Italy;  nor  is  there  lack 
of  credible  and  abundant  witnesses,  who  are  still  living,  to  his 
prudence,  humanity,  justice,  liberality,  unconquered  courage, — 
and  to  his  military  discipline,  which  is  conspicuously  attested  by 
his  numerous  victories,  his  capture  of  impregnable  places,  the 
sudden  swiftness  of  his  expeditions,  the  frequency  with  which  he 
put  to  flight  large  and  formidable  armies  by  means  of  a  very 
small  force,  and  by  his  loss  of  no  single  battle  whatever;"  so 
that  we  may  not  unreasonably  compare  him  to  many  famous 
men  of  old. 

Among  his  other  praiseworthy  deeds,  he  built  on  the  rugged 
site  of  Urbino  a  palace  regarded  by  many  as  the  most  beautiful 
to  be  found  in  all  Italy;  and  he  so  well  furnished  it,with  everjt. 
thing  suitable  that  it  seem&dnot-a-palaae.but_a_-city.iii.lh£ fornix, 
of  a  palace;  and  not  merely  with  what  is  ordinarily  used, — such 
as  silver  vases,  hangings  of  richest  cloth-of-gold  and  silk,  and 

other  similar  things, — but  for  ornament  he  added  countless  an- 

tique  statues  in  marble  and  bronze,  pictures  most  choice,  and 
musical  instruments  of  every  sort,  nor  would  he  admit  anything 
there  that  was  not  very  rare  and  excellent..  Then  at  very  great 
cost  he  collected  a  goodly  number  of  most  excellent  and  rare 
books  in  Greek,  Latin  and  Hebrew,  all  of  which  he  adorned 
with  gold  and  with  silver,  esteeming  this  to  be  the  chiefest  excel- 
lence of  his  great  palace."   ;   >  '.   ~^  ~    '  i  t      v:h5  ,    I    ._■.  .vv 

3-— Following  then  the  course  of  nature,  and  already  sixty-five 
years  old,'''  he  died  gloriously,  as  he  had  lived;  and  he  left  as  his 
successor  a  motherless  little  boy  of  ten  years,  his  only  son 
Guidobaldo.  Heir  to  the  State,  he  seemed  to  be  heir  also  to  all 
his  father's  virtues,  and  soon  his  noble  nature  gave  such  promise 
as  seemed  not  permissible  to  hope  for  from  mortal  man;  so  that 
men  esteemed  none  among  the  notable  deeds  of  Duke  Federico 
to  be  greater  than  to  have  begotten  such  a  son.  But  envious  of 
so  much  virtue,  fortune  thwarted  this  glorious  beginning  with 
all  her  power;  so  that  before  Duke  Guido  reached  the  age  of 
twenty  years,  he  fell  ill  of  the  gout,"*  which  grew  upon  him  with 



grievous  pain,  and  in  a  short  space  of  time  so  crippled  all  his 
members  that  he  could  neither  stand  upon  his  feet  nor  move; 
and  thus  one  of  the  fairest  and  most  promising  forms  in  the 
world  was  distorted  and  spoiled  in  tender  youth. 

And  not  content  even  with  this,  fortune  was  so  contrary  to 
him  in  all  his  purposes,  that  he  could  seldom  carry  into  effect 
Anything  that  he  desired;  and  although  he  was  very  wise  of 
/counsel  and  unconquered  in  spirit,  it  seemed  that  what  he  under- 
itook,  both  in  war  and  in  everything  else  whether  small  or  great, 
I  always  ended  ill  for  him.  And  proof  of  this  is  found  in  his  many 
and  diverse  calamities,  which  he  ever  bore  with  such  strength 
of  mind,  that  his  spirit  was  never  vanquished  by  fortune;  nay, 
scorning  her  assaults  with  unbroken  courage,  he  lived  in  illness 
as  if  in  health  and  in  adversity  as  if  fortunate,  with  perfect  dig- 
nity and  universal  esteem;  so  that  although  he  was  thus  infirm 
of  body,  he  fought  with  most  honourable  rank  in  the  service  of 
their  Serene  Highnesses  the  Kings  of  Naples,  Alfonso''  and 
Ferdinand  the  Younger ;""  later  with  Pope  Alexander  VI,"  and 
with  the  Venetian  and  Florentine  signories. 

Upon  the  accession  of  Julius  II "  to  the  pontificate,  he  was  made 
Captain  of  the  Church;  at  which  time,  following  his  accustomed 
habit,  above  all  else  he  took  care  to  fill  his  household  withjyerx 
noble  and  valiant  gentlemen,  with  whom  he  lived  most  familiarly, 
delighting  in  their  intercourse:  wherein  the  pleasure  he  gave  to 
others  was  not  less  than  that  he  received  from  others,  he  being 
well  versed  in  both  the  [learned] '^^'  languages,  and  uniting  affa- 
bility and  pleasantness*'  to  a  knowledge  of  things  without  num- 
ber. And  besides  this,  the  greatness  of  his  spirit  so  set  him  on, 
that  although  he  could  not  practise  in  person  the  exercises  of 
chivalry,  as  he  once  had  done,  yet  he  took  the  utmost  pleasure 
in  witnessing  them  in  others;  and  by  his  words,  now  correcting 
now  praising  every  man  according  to  desert,  he  clearly  showed 
his  judgment  in  those  matters;  wherefore,  in  jousts  and  tourna- 
ments, in  riding,  in  the  handling  of  every  sort  of  weapon,  as  well 
as  in  pastimes,  games,  music, —  in  short,  in  all  the  exercises 
proper  to  noble  cavaliers, —  everyone  strove  so  to  show  himself, 
as  to  merit  being  deemed  worthy  of  such  noble  fellowship. 

4  — Thus  all  the  hours  of  the  day  were  assigned  to  honourable 


THE   FIRST   BOOK   OF   THE   COURTIER      ,^^,^^ 

and  pleasant  exercises  as  well  for  the  body  as  for  the  mind;  but 
since  my  lord  Duke  was  always  wont  by  reason  of  his  infirmity  to 
retire  to  sleep  very  early  after  supper,  everyone  usually  betook 
himself  at  that  hour  to  the  presence  of  my  lady  Duchess,  Elisabetta 
Gonzaga;  where  also  was  ever  to  be  found  my  lady  Emilia  Pia," 
who  was  endowed  with  such  lively  wit  and  judgment  that,  as 
you  know,  it  seemed  as  if  she  were  the  Mistress  of  us  all,  and  as 
if  everyone  gained  wisdom  and  worth  from  her.  Here  then, 
gentle  discussions  and  innocent  pleasantries  were  heard,  and  on 
the  face  of  everyone  a  jocund  gaiety  was  seen  depicted,  so  that 
the  house  could  truly  be  called  the  very  abode  of  mirth:  nor 
ever  elsewhere,  I  think,  was  so  relished,  as  once  was  here,  how 
great  sweetness  may  flow  from  dear  and  cherished  companion- 
ship; for  not  to  speak  of  the  honour  it  was  to  each  of  us  to  serve 

such  a  lord  as  he  of  whom  I  have  just  spoken,  there  was  born  in 

the  hearts  of  all  a  supreme  contentment  every  time  we  came  into 
tlfe^ presence  of  my  lady  Duchess;  and  it  seemed  as  if  this  were 
a  chain  that  held  us  all  linked  in  love,  so  that  never  was  concord 
of  will  or  cordial  love  between  brothers  greater  than  that  which 
here  was  between  us  all.  Vxc^v  -i- 

The  same  was  it  among  the  ladies,  w^ith  whom  there  was 
intercourse  most  free  and  honourable;    for  everyone  was  per-     ,,     ^^ 
mitted  to  talk,  sit,  jest  and  laugh  with  whom  he  pleased;  but  .  }^'~*'**'C 
such  was  the  reverence  paid  to  the  wish  of  my  lady  Duchess,    i^'s.itti*. 
That  this  same  liberty  was  a  very  great  check;**  nor  was  there 
anyone  who  did  not  esteem  it  the   utmost   pleasure   he   could 
have  in    the    world,   to    please    her,    and   the   utmost    pain   to 
displease  her.      And  thus,  most  decorous  manners  were  here 
joined   with  greatest  liberty,  and  games  and  laughter   in   her 
presence   were   seasoned   not   only  with   witty  jests,   but  w^ith    *-*^'''^"^ 
gracious    and    sober    dignity;    for   that   modesty    and    loftiness 
which  governed  all  the  acts,  words  and  gestures  of  my  lady 
Duchess,  bantering  and  laughing,  were  such  that  she  would  have 
been  known  for  a  lady  of  noblest  rank  by  anyone  who  saw  her 
even  but  once.     And  impressing  herself  thus  upon  those  about 
her,  she  seemed  to  attune  us  all  to  her  own  quality  and  tone; 
accordingly  every  man  strove  to  follow  this  pattern,  taking  as  it 
were  a  rule  of  beautiful  behaviour  from  the  presence  of  so  great 



and  virtuous  a  lady;  whose  highest  qualities  I  do  not  now  pur- 
pose to  recount,  they  not  being  my  theme  and  being  well  known 
to  all  the  world,  and  far  more  because  I  could  not  express  them 
with  either  tongue  or  pen;  and  those  that  perhaps  might  have 
been  somewhat  hid,  fortune,  as  if  wondering  at  such  rare  virtue, 
chose  to  reveal  through  many  adversities  and  stings  of  calam- 
ity, so  as  to  give  proof  that  in  the  tender  breast  of  woman,  in 
company  with  singular  beauty,  there  may  abide  prudence  and 
strength  of  soul,  and  all  those  virtues  that  even  among  stern 
men  are  very  rare." 

5-— But  leaving  this  aside,  I  say  that  the  custom  of  all  the  gSSc^ 
tlemen  of  the  house  was  to  betake  themselves  straightway  after 
supper  to  my  lady  Duchess;  where,  among  the  other  pleasant 
pastimes  and  music  and  dancing  that  continually  were  practised, 
sometimes  neat  questions  were  proposed,  sometimes  ingenious 
games  were  devised  at  the  choice  of  one  or  another,  in  which 
under  various  disguises  the  company  disclosed  their  thoughts 
figuratively  to  whom  they  liked  best.  Sometimes  other  discus- 
sions arose  about  different  matters,  or  biting  retorts  passed 
lightly  back  and  forth.  Often  "  devices  "  (imprese),  as  we  now 
call  them,  were  displayed;'"  in  discussing  which  there  was  won- 
derful diversion,  the  house  being  (as  I  have  said)  full  of  very 
noble  talents;  among  whom  (as  you  know)  the  most  famous 
were  my  lord  Ottaviano  Fregoso,  his  brother  messer  Federico,*' 
jjthe  Magnifico  Giuliano  de'  Medici,  messer  Pietro  Bembo,"  mes- 
;  ser  Cesare  Gonzaga,"  Count  Ludovico  da  Canossa,"  my  lord 
Caspar  Pallavicino,"  my  lord  Ludovico  Pio,*'  my  lord  Morello 
da  Ortona,"  Pietro  da  Napoli,  messer  Roberto  da  Bari,''  and 
countless  other  very  noble  jcajiialiers^  Moreover  there  were 
many,  who,  although  usually  they  did  not  dwell  there  constantly, 
yet  spent  most  of  the  time  there:  like  messer  Bernardo  Bibbiena, 
the  Unico  Aretino,"  Giancristoforo  Romano,"  Pietro  Monte," 
Terpandro,'*  messer  Niccold  Frisio;"  so  that  there  always 
flocked  thither  poets,  musicians  and  all  sorts  of  agreeable"  men, 
and  in  every  walk  the  most  excellent  that  were  to  be  found  in  Italy. 
6 — Now  Pope  Julius  II,  having  by  his  presence  and  the  aid 
of  the  French  brought  Bologna  under  subjection  to  the  apostolic 
see  in  the  year  1506,  and  being  on  his  way  back  to  Rome,  passed 





Reduced  from  Braun's  photograph  (no.  41.131)  of  the  portrait  in  the  UfBzi  Gallery  at  Flor- 
ence, variously  ascribed  to  Andrea  Mantegna  (1431-1506),  to  Lorenzo  Costa  (1460 -1535), 
and  to  Francesco  Bonsignori  (1455 - 1519). 




through  Urbino;  where  he  was  received  with  all  possible  honour 
and  with  as  magnificent  and  splendid  state  as  could  have  been 
prepared  in  any  other  noble  city  of  Italy:  so  that  besides  the 
pope,  all  the  lord  cardinals  and  other  courtiers  were  most  highly 
gratified.  And  some  there  were,  attracted  by  the  charm  of  this 
society,  who  tarried  at  Urbino  many  days  after  the  departure  of 
the  pope  and  his  court;  during  which  time  not  only  were  the 
ordinary  pastimes  and  diversions  continued  in  the  usual  manner, 
but  every  man  strove  to  contribute  something  new,  and  especially 
jrvthe^ames,  to  which  j.lmjost  every  evening  was  devoted.  And 
the  order  of  them  was  such  that  immediately  after  reaching 
the  presence  of  my  lady  Duchess,  everyone  sat  down  in  a  circle 
as  he  pleased  or  as  chance  decided;  and  in  sitting  they  were 
arranged  alternately,  a  man  and  a  woman,  as  long  as  there 
were  women,  for  nearly  always  the  number  of  men  was  by  far 
the  greater;  then  they  were  governed  as  seemed  best  to  my 
lady  Duchess,  who  for  the  most  part  left  this  charge  to  my  lady 

So,  the  day  after  the  pope's  departure,'^  the  company  being 
assembled  at  the  wonted  hour  and  place,  after  much  pleasant 
talk,  my  lady  Duchess  desired  my  lady  Emilia  to  begin  the 
games;  and  she,  after  having  for  a  time  refused  the  task,  spoke 
thus : 

"  My  Lady,  since  it  pleases  you  that  I  shall  be  the  one  to  begin 
the  games  this  evening,  not  being  able  in  reason  to  fail  to  obey 
you,  I  will  propose  a  game  in  which  I  think  I  ought  to  have 
little  blame  and  less  labour;  and  this  shall  be  for  everyone  to 
propose  after  his  liking  a  game  that  has  never  been  given;  and 
then  we  will  choose  the  one  that  seems  best  worthy  to  be  played 
in  this  company," 

And  so  saying,  she  turned  to  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino,  re- 
quiring him  to  tell  his  choice;  and  he  at  once  replied: 

"  It  is  for  you,  my  Lady,  first  to  tell  your  own." 

"But  I  have  already  told  it,"  said  my  lady  Emilia;  "now  do 
you,  my  lady  Duchess,  bid  him  be  obedient."'" 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said,  smiling: 

"  To  the  end  that  everyone  may  be  bound  to  obey  you,  I  make 
you  my  deputy  and  give  you  all  my  authority." 



7-— "It  is  a  remarkable  thing,"  replied  my  lord  Caspar,  "that 
women  should  always  be  allowed  this  exemption  from  toil, 
and  it  certainly  would  not  be  unreasonable  to  wish  in  some 
way  to  learn  the  reason  why;  but  not  to  be  the  first  to  disobey, 
I  will  leave  this  for  another  time,  and  will  tell  what  is  required 
of  me;"  and  he  began:  "  It  seems  to  me  that  in  love,  as  in 
everything  else,  our  minds  judge  diversely;  and  thus  it  often 
happens  that  what  is  very  delightful  to  one  man,  is  very  hate- 
ful to  another;  but  none  the  less  we  all  are  ever  alike  in  this, 
that  every  man  holds  his  beloved  very  dear;  so  that  the  over 
fondness  of  lovers  often  cheats  their  judgment  to  such  a  degree, 
that  they  esteem  the  person  whom  they  love  to  be  the  only  one 
in  the  world  adorned  with  every  excellent  virtue  and  wholly 
without  defect;  but  since  human  nature  does  not  admit  such 
complete  perfection,  and  since  there  is  no  one  to  be  found  who 
does  not  lack  something,  it  cannot  be  said  that  such  men  do  not 
cheat  themselves,  and  that  the  lover  does  not  become  blind  con- 
cerning the  beloved.  I  would  therefore  that  this  evening  our 
game  might  be  that  each  of  us  should  tell  what  virtue  above 
others  he  would  have  the  person  whom  he  loves  adorned  with; 
and  then,  as  all  must  have  some  blemish,  what  fault  he  would 
have  in  her;  in  order  that  we  may  see  who  can  find  the  most 
praiseworthy  and  useful  virtues,  and  the  most  excusable  faults 
and  least  harmful  to  lover  and  beloved."! 

My  lord  Gaspar  having  spoken  thus,  my  lady  Emilia  made 
sign  to  madonna  Costanza  Fregosa"  to  follow  after,  because 
she  sat  next  in  order,  and  she  was  preparing  to  speak;  but  my 
lady  Duchess  said  quickly: 

"  Since  my  lady  Emilia  will  not  make  the  effort  to  invent  a 
game,  it  were  only  fair  that  the  other  ladies  share  this  ease  and 
that  they  too  be  exempt  from  such  exertion  for  this  evening, 
especially  as  there  are  here  so  many  men  that  there  is  no  dan- 
ger of  lack  of  games." 

"So  be  it,"  replied  my  lady  Emilia;  and  imposing  silence  on 
madonna  Costanza,  she  turned  to  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga,  who 
sat  next,  and  bade  him  speak;  and  he  began  thus: 

8 — "  Whoso  will  carefully  consider  all  our  actions,  will  ever 
find  various  defects  in  them;  the  reason  whereof  is  that  nature, 



variable  in  this  as  in  other  things,  has  given  to  one  man  the 
light  of  reason  in  one  thing,  to  another  man  in  another  thing; 
and  so  it  happens  that,  the  one  knowing  what  the  other  does  not 
know  and  being  ignorant  of  what  the  other  understands,  each 
readily  perceives  his  neighbour's  fault  and  not  his  own,  and  we 
all  seem  to  ourselves  very  wise  and  perhaps  most  of  all  in  that 
wherein  we  most  are  foolish.  Thus  we  have  seen  it  happen  in 
this  house  that  many,  at  first  accounted  very  wise,  were  in  course 
of  time  recognized  as  very  foolish,  which  came  about  from  nothing 
else  but  our  own  watchfulness.  For,  as  they  say  that  in  Apulia 
musical  instruments  are  used  for  those  bitten  by  the  tarantula," 
and  various  tunes  are  tried  until  the  humour  that  causes  the 
malady  (through  a  certain  affinity  it  has  for  some  one  of  those 
tunes)  is  suddenly  stirred  by  the  sound,  and  so  excites  the  sick 
man  that  he  is  restored  to  health  by  virtue  of  that  excitement:  so 
when  we  have  perceived  a  hidden  touch  of  folly,  we  have  stimu- 
lated it  so  artfully  and  with  such  various  persuasions  and  diverse 
means,  that  at  length  we  have  learned  whither  it  tended;  then, 
the  humour  once  recognized,  so  well  have  we  excited  it  that  it  has 
always  reached  the  perfection  of  open  folly.  Thus  one  man  has 
waxed  foolish  over  poetry,  another  over  music,  another  over  love, 
another  over  dancing,  another  over  inventing  mimes,**  another 
over  riding,  another  over  fencing, —  each  according  to  the  native 
quality  of  his  metal;  whence,  as  you  know,  great  amusement  has 
been  derived.  I  hold  it  then  as  certain  that  there  is  some  grain' 
of  folly  in  each  of  us,  which  being  quickened  can  multiply  almost 
infinitely.  * 

"  Therefore  I  would  that  this  evening  our  game  might  be  a 
discussion  upon  this  subject,  and  that  each  one  tell  with  what 
kind  of  folly,  and  about  what  thing,  he  thinks  I  should  make  a 
fool  of  myself  if  I  had  to  make  a  fool  of  myself  openly,  judging 
of  this  outburst  by  the  sparks  of  folly  that  are  daily  seen  to  issue 
from  me.  Let  the  same  be  told  of  all  the  rest,  keeping  to  the 
order  of  our  games,  and  let  each  one  try  to  found  his  opinion 
upon  some  actual  sign  and  argument.  And  thus  we  shall  each 
derive  from  our  game  the  advantage  of  learning  our  defects,  and 
so  shall  be  better  able  to  guard  against  them;  and  if  the  vein  of 
folly  that  is  discovered  proves  so  rich  that  it  seems  incurable, 



we  will  assist  it,  and  according  to  fra  Mariano's""  teaching,  we 
shall  have  saved  a  soul,  which  will  be  no  small  gain." 

There  was  much  laughter  at  this  game,  nor  were  there  any 
who  could  keep  from  talking;  one  said,  "I  should  make  a  fool 
of  myself  over  thinking;"  another,  "Over  looking;"  another 
said,  "I  have  already  made  a  fool  of  myself  over  loving;"  and 
the  like. 

9-— Then  fra  Serafino"  said,  laughing  after  his  manner: 

"That  would  take  too  long;  but  if  you  want  a  fine  game,  let 
everyone  give  his  opinion  why  it  is  that  nearly  all  women  hold 
rats  in  hatred,  and  are  fond  of  snakes;  and  you  will  see  that  no 
one  will  guess  the  reason  except  myself,  who  learned  this  secret 
in  a  strange  way."  And  he  began  to  tell  his  stories;  but  my 
lady  Emilia  bade  him  be  silent,  and  passing  over  the  lady  who 
sat  next,  made  sign  to  the  Unico  Aretino  whose  turn  it  was;  and 
he,  without  waiting  for  further  command,  said: 

"  I  would  I  were  a  judge  with  power  to  search  the  heart  of 
evil-doers  by  every  sort  of  torture;  and  this  that  I  might  fathom 
the  deceits  of  an  ingrate  with  angel  eyes  and  serpent  heart,  who 
never  lets  her  tongue  reveal  her  soul,  and  with  deceitful  pity 
feigned  has  no  thought  but  of  dissecting  hearts.  Nor  is  there  in 
sandy  Libya  to  be  found  a  serpent  so  venomous  and  eager  for 
human  blood  as  is  this  false  one;  who  not  only  in  the  sweetness 
of  her  voice  and  honeyed  words,  but  in  her  eyes,  her  smiles,  her 
aspect  and  in  all  her  ways,  is  a  very  siren. 

"  But  since  I  am  not  suffered,  as  I  would  I  were,  to  use  chains, 
rope  and  fire  to  learn  a  certain  truth,  I  fain  would  learn  it  by  a 
game, — which  is  this:  let  each  one  tell  what  he  believes  to  be 
the  meaning  of  that  letter  S  which  my  lady  Duchess  wears  upon 
her  brow;  for,  although  this  too  is  surely  an  artful  veil  to  aid 
deceit,  perchance  there  will  be  given  it  some  interpretation 
unthought  of  by  her  perhaps,  and  it  will  be  found  that  fortune, 
compassionate  spectatress  of  men's  martyrdoms,  has  led  her 
against  her  will  to  disclose  by  this  small  token  her  secret  wish 
to  slay  and  bury  alive  in  calamity  everyone  who  beholds  her  or 
serves  her." 

My  lady  Duchess  laughed,  and  the  Unico,  seeing  that  she 
wished  to  defend  herself  against  this  imputation,  said: 



"  Nay,  my  Lady,  do  not  speak,  for  it  is  not  now  your  turn  to 

My  lady  Emilia  then  turned  and  said: 

"  Sir  Unico,  there  is  no  one  of  us  here  who  does  not  yield  to 
you  in  everything,  but  above  all  in  knowledge  of  my  lady 
Duchess's  mind;  and  since  you  know  it  better  than  the  others 
(thanks  to  your  divine  genius),  you  love  it  better  than  the  others, 
who  like  those  weak-sighted  birds  that  fix  not  their  eyes  upon 
the  sun's  orb,  cannot  so  justly  know  how  perfect  it  is;  wherefore 
every  effort  to  clear  this  doubt  would  be  vain,  save  your  own 
judgment.  To  you  alone  then  be  left  this  task,  as  to  him  who 
alone  can  perform  it." 

The  Unico  remained  silent  for  a  while,  then  being  urged  to 
speak,  at  last  recited  a  sonnet  upon  the  aforesaid  subject,  declar- 
ing what  that  letter  S  meant;  which  was  by  many  believed  to 
be  done  impromptu,  but  as  it  was  more  ingenious  and  finished 
than  seemed  to  accord  with  the  shortness  of  the  time,  it  was 
thought  rather  to  have  been  prepared."' 

10.— Then  having  bestowed  a  merry  plaudit  in  praise  of  the 
sonnet,  and  talked  of  it  awhile,  my  lord  Ottaviano  Fregoso, 
whose  turn  it  was,  smilingly  began  as  follows : 

"  My  Lords,  if  I  were  to  affirm  that  I  had  never  felt  the  pas- 
sion of  love,  I  am  sure  that  my  lady  Duchess  and  my  lady 
Emilia  would  feign  to  believe  it  even  though  they  believed  it 
not,  and  would  say  that  it  was  because  I  mistrusted  ever  being 
able  to  prevail  upon  any  woman  to  love  me;  whereof  indeed  I 
have  not  made  trial  hitherto  with  such  persistence  as  reasonably 
to  despair  of  being  able  sometime  to  succeed.  But  yet  I  have 
not  refrained  because  I  rate  myself  so  high,  or  women  so  low, 
that  I  do  not  deem  many  of  them  worthy  to  be  loved  and  served 
by  me ;  but  made  timourous  rather  by  the  continual  laments  of 
some  lovers,  who — pallid,  gloomy  and  taciturn — seem  always  to 
wear  their  unhappiness  depicted  in  their  eyes;  and  if  they  speak, 
they  accompany  every  word  with  triple  sighs,  and  discourse  of 
nothing  but  tears,  torments,  despairings  and  longings  for  death; 
so  that  if  an  amourous  spark  has  sometimes  kindled  in  my  heart,  I 
have  at  once  striven  with  all  my  might  to  quench  it,  not  from  any 
hate  I  bear  to  women  as  these  ladies  think,  but  for  my  own  good. 



"  I  have  also  known  some  others  quite  different  from  these  do- 
lourous souls, —  lovers  who  not  only  give  thanks  and  praise  for 
the  kind  looks,  tender  words  and  gentle  bearing  of  their  mis- 
tresses, but  flavour  all  evils  with  sweetness,  so  that  they  call 
their  ladies'  warrings,  anger  and  disdain,  most  sweet  Where- 
fore such  as  these  seem  to  me  far  more  than  happy.  For  if  they 
find  such  sweetness  in  lovers'  quarrels,  which  those  others  deem 
far  more  bitter  than  death,  I  think  that  in  loving  endearments 
they  must  enjoy  that  supreme  beatitude  which  we  vainly  seek  in 
this  world.  So  I  would  that  this  evening  our  game  might  be, 
that  each  man  tell,  if  she  whom  he  loves  must  needs  be  angry 
with  him,  by  what  cause  he  would  have  her  anger  roused.  Be- 
cause if  there  be  any  here  who  have  enjoyed  this  sweet  anger,  I 
am  sure  that  out  of  courtesy  they  will  choose  one  of  those 
causes  that  make  it  so  sweet;  and  perhaps  I  shall  take  courage 
to  advance  a  little  farther  in  love,  hoping  that  I  too  may  find  this 
sweetness  where  some  find  bitterness;  and  then  these  ladies  will 
be  no  longer  able  to  cast  shame  upon  me  because  I  do  not  love." 

II.— This  game  found  much  favour  and  everyone  made  ready 
to  speak  upon  the  subject,  but  as  my  lady  Emilia  made  no  further 
mention  of  it,  messer  Pietro  Bembo,  who  sat  next  in  order,  spoke 

"  My  Lords,  no  small  uncertainty  has  been  awakened  in  my 
mind  by  the  game  proposed  by  my  lord  Ottaviano  in  his  dis- 
course about  love's  anger:  the  which,  however  varied  it  be,  has 
in  my  case  always  been  most  bitter,  nor  do  I  believe  that  any 
seasoning  could  be  learned  from  me  that  would  avail  to  sweeten 
it;  but  perhaps  it  is  more  or  less  bitter  according  to  the  cause 
from  which  it  springs.*"  For  I  remember  once  to  have  seen  the 
lady  whom  I  served  wrought  up  against  me,  either  by  some  idle 
suspicion  that  she  had  herself  conceived  as  to  my  loyalty,  or  by 
some  other  false  notion  awakened  in  her  by  what  others  had  said  to 
my  injury;  insomuch  that  I  believed  no  pain  could  equal  mine,  and 
it  seemed  to  me  that  the  greatest  suffering  I  felt  was  to  endure  that 
which  I  had  not  deserved,  and  to  have  this  affliction  come  upon  me 
not  from  my  fault  but  from  her  lack  of  love.  At  other  times  I  saw 
her  angered  by  some  errour  of  mine,  and  knew  her  ire  to  proceed 
from  my  fault;   and  then  I  deemed   that   my  former  woe  was 



very  light  compared  with  that  which  now  I  felt;  and  it  seemed 
to  me  that  to  have  displeased,  and  through  my  own  guilt,  the 
person  whom  alone  I  desired  and  so  zealously  strove  to  please, 
was  the  greatest  torment  and  above  all  others.  I  would  there- 
fore that  our  game  might  be  that  each  man  tell,  if  she  whom  he 
loves  must  needs  be  angry  with  him,  from  which  of  the  two  he 
would  have  her  anger  spring,  from  her  or  from  himself;  so  that 
we  may  know  which  is  the  greater  suffering,  to  give  displeasure 
to  her  who  is  loved,  or  to  receive  it  from  her  who  is  loved." 

12 Everyone  waited  for  my  lady  Emilia  to  reply;  but  she, 

saying  nothing  more  to  Bembo,  turned  and  made  sign  to  messer 
Federico  Fregoso  that  he  should  tell  his  game;  and  he  at  once 
began  as  follows: 

"  My  Lady,  I  would  it  were  permitted  me,  as  it  sometimes  is, 
to  assent  to  another's  proposal;  since  for  my  part  I  would 
readily  approve  any  of  the  games  proposed  by  these  gentlemen, 
for  I  really  think  that  all  of  them  would  be  amusing.  But  not 
to  break  our  rule,  I  say  that  anyone  who  wished  to  praise  our 
court, —  laying  aside  the  merit  of  our  lady  Duchess,  which  with 
her  divine  virtue  would  suffice  to  lift  from  earth  to  heaven  the 
meanest  souls  that  are  in  the  world, —  might  well  say  without 
suspicion  of  flattery,  that  in  all  Italy  it  would  perhaps  be  hard  to. 
^nd  so  many  cavaliers  so  singularly  admirable  and  so  excellent  ^ 
in^divers  other  matters  besides  the  chief  concerns  of  chivalry,  as 
are  now  to  be  found  here:  wherefore  if  anywhere  there  be 
men  who  deserve  to  be  called  good  Courtiers  and  who  are  able 
to  judge  of  what  pertains  to  the  perfection  of  Courtiership,  it  is 
reasonable  to  believe  that  they  are  here.  So,  to  repress  the 
many  fools  who  by  impudence  and  folly  think  to  win  the  name 
of  good  Courtier,  I  would  that  this  evening's  game  might  be, 
that  we  select  some  one  of  the  company  and  give  him  the  task, 
of  portraying  a  perfect  Courtier,  explaining  all  the  conditions 
and  special  qualities  requisite  in  one  who  deserves  this  title; 
and  as  to  those  things  that  shall  not  appear  sound,  let  everyone 
be  allowed  to  contradict,  as  in  the  schools  of  the  philosophers  it  ■ 
is  allowed  to  contradict  anyone  who  proposes  a  thesis." 

Messer  Federico  was  continuing  his   discourse  still  further, 
when  my  lady  Emilia  interrupted  him  and  said: 



"  This,  if  it  pleases  my  lady  Duchess,  shall  for  the  present  be 
our  game." 

My  lady  Duchess  answered  : 

"  It  does  please  me." 

Then  nearly  all  those  present  began  to  say,  both  to  my  lady 
Duchess  and  among  themselves,  that  this  was  the  finest  game 
that  could  possibly  be;  and  without  waiting  for  each  other's 
answer,  they  entreated  my  lady  Emilia  to  decide  who  should 
begin.     She  turned  to  my  lady  Duchess  and  said: 

"  Command,  my  Lady,  him  who  it  best  pleases  you  should 
have  this  task;  for  I  do  not  wish,  by  selecting  one  rather  than  an- 
other, to  seem  to  decide  whom  I  think  more  competent  in  this 
matter  than  the  rest,  and  so  do  wrong  to  anyone." 

My  lady  Duchess  replied: 

"  Nay,  make  this  choice  yourself,  and  take  heed  lest  by  not 
obeying  you  give  an  example  to  the  others,  so  that  they  too 
prove  disobedient  in  their  turn." 

I3-— At  this  my  lady  Emilia  laughed  and  said  to  Count  Ludo- 
vico  da  Canossa: 

"Then  not  to  lose  more  time,  you.  Count,  shall  be  the  one 
to  take  this  enterprise  after  the  manner  that  messer  Federico 
has  described;  not  indeed  because  we  account  you  so  good  a 
Courtier  that  you  know  what  befits  one,  but  because,  if  you  say 
everything  wrong  as  we  hope  you  will,  the  game  will  be  more 
lively,  for  everyone  will  then  have  something  to  answer  you; 
while  if  someone  else  had  this  task  who  knew  more  than  you,  it 
would  be  impossible  to  contradict  him  in  anything,  because  he 
would  tell  the  truth,  and  so  the  game  would  be  tedious." 

The  Count  answered  quickly : 

"  W^hoever  told  the  truth,  my  Lady,  would  run  no  risk  of  lack- 
ing contradiction,  so  long  as  you  were  present;"  and  after  some 
laughter  at  this  retort,  he  continued:  "But  truly  I  would  fain 
escape  this  burden,  it  seeming  to  me  too  heavy,  and  I  being  con- 
scious that  what  you  said  in  jest  is  very  true;  that  is,  that  I  do 
not  know  what  befits  a  good  Courtier:  and  I  do  not  seek  to 
prove  this  with  further  argument,  because,  as  I  do  not  practise 
the  rules  of  Courtiership,  one  may  judge  that  I  do  not  know 
them;  and  I  think  my  blame  may  be  the  less,  for  sure  it  is  worse 




Reduced  from  a  photograph,  specially  made  through  the  courtesy  of  the  Bishop  of 
Bayeux,  of  an  anonymous  portrait  in  his  possession.  The  sadly  injured  condition 
of  the  original  rendered  it  necessary  to  retouch  the  negative,  in  which  process  recourse 
was  had  to  a  small  photograph,  kindly  furnished  by  the  Marquess  Ottaviodi  Canossa, 
of  his  copy  of  the  Bayeux  portrait. 

AsaoHAD  ACT  onivoatT.i  mvc 


not  to  wish  to  do  well  than  not  to  know  how.  Yet,  since  it  so 
happens  that  you  are  pleased  to  have  me  bear  this  burden,  I 
neither  can  nor  will  refuse  it,  in  order  not  to  contravene  our  rule 
and  your  judgment,  which  I  rate  far  higher  than  my  own." 

Then  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  As  the  early  evening  is  now  spent  and  many  other  kinds 
of  entertainment  are  ready,  perhaps  it  will  be  well  to  put  off  this 
discussion  until  to-morrow  and  give  the  Count  time  to  think  of 
what  he  has  to  say;  for  it  is  difficult  indeed  to  speak  unprepared 
on  such  a  subject." 

The  Count  replied: 

"  I  do  not  wish  to  be  like  the  fellow  who,  when  stripped  to  his 
shirt,  vaulted  less  well  than  he  had  done  in  his  doublet;  hence  it 
seems  to  me  good  fortune  that  the  hour  is  late,  for  I  shall  be 
obliged  by  the  shortness  of  the  time  to  say  but  little,  and  my.  not 
having  taken  thought  will  excuse  me,  so  that  I  shall  be  allowed 
to  say  without  blame  whatever  first  comes  to  my  lips. 

"  Therefore,  not  to  carry  this  burden  of  duty  longer  on  my 
shoulders,  I  say  that  in  everything  it  is  so  hard  to  know  the  true 
perfection  as  to  be  well  nigh  impossible;  and  this  because  of  the 
variety  of  opinions.  Thus  there  are  many  that  will  like  a  man 
who  speaks  much,  and  will  call  him  pleasing;  some  will  prefer 
modesty;  some  others,  an  active  and  restless  man;  still  others, 
one  who  shows  calmness  and  deliberation  in  everything;  and  so 
every  man  praises  or  decries  according  to  his  mind,  always 
clothing  vice  with  the  name  of  its  kindred  virtue,  or  virtue  with 
the  name  of  its  kindred  vice;  for  example,  calling  an  impudent 
man  frank,  a  modest  man  dull,  an  ignorant  man  good,  a  knave 
discreet;  and  so  in  all  things  else.  YeOJbelieye^Jhat  there_ejJC-_ 
ists  in  everything  its  own  perfection;,  although  concealed ;  and  that 
this  can  be  determined  through  rational  discussion  by  any  having, 
knowledge  of  the  thing  in  hand.  And  since,  as  I  have  said,  the 
truth  often  lies  concealed,  and  I  do  not  profess  to  have  this  know- 
ledge, I  can  only  praise  the  kind  of  Courtier  that  I  most  esteem, 
and  approve  him  who  seems  to  me  nearest  right,  according  to  my 
poor  judgment;  the  which  you  will  follow  if  you  find  it  good,  or 
you  will  hold  to  your  own  if  it  differs  from  mine.  Nor  shall  I  at 
all  insist  that  mine  is  better  than  yours;  not  only  because  you 



may  think  one  thing  and  I  another,  but  I  myself  may  sometimes 
think  one  thing,  and  sometimes  another.  ,  , 

I4--T-"  I  wish,  then,  that  this  Courtier  of  ours  should  be  nobly 
born  and  of  gentle  race;  because  it  is  far  less  unseemly  for  one 
of  ignoble  birth  to  fail  in  worthy  deeds,  than  for  one  of  noble 
birth,  who,  if  he  strays  from  the  path  of  his  predecessors,  stains 
his  family  name,  and  not  only  fails  to  achieve  but  loses  what  has 
been  achieved  already;  for  noble  birth  is  like  a  bright  lamp  that 
manifests  and  makes  visible  good  and  evil  deeds,  and  kindles 
and  stimulates  to  virtue  both  by  fear  of  shame  and  by  hope  of 
praise.  And  since  this  splendour  of  nobility  does  not  illumine 
the  deeds  of  the  humbly  born,  they  lack  that  stimulus  and  fear 
of  shame,  nor  do  they  feel  any  obligation  to  advance  beyond  what 
their  predecessors  have  done;  while  to  the  nobly  born  it  seems  a 
reproach  not  to  reach  at  least  the  goal  set  them  by  their  ances- 
tors. And  thus  it  nearly  always  happens  that  both  in  the  pro- 
fession of  arms  and  in  other  worthy  pursuits  the  most  famous 
men  have  been  of  noble  birth,  because  nature  has  implanted  in 
everything  that  hidden  seed  which  gives  a  certain  force  and 
quality  of  its  own  essence  to  all  things  that  are  derived  from  it, 
and  makes  them  like  itself:  as  we  see  not  only  in  the  breeds  of 
horses  and  of  other  animals,  but  also  in  trees,  the  shoots  of  which 
nearly  always  resemble  the  trunk;  and  if  they  sometimes  degen- 
erate, it  arises  from  poor  cultivation.  And  so  it  is  with  men, 
who  if  rightly  trained  are  nearly  always  like  those  from  whom 
they  spring,  and  often  better;  but  if  there  be  no  one  to  give  them 
proper  care,  they  become  like  savages  and  never  reach  perfection. 

"  It  is  true  that,  by  favour  of  the  stars  or  of  nature,  some  men 
are  endowed  at  birth  with  such  graces  that  they  seem  not  to 
have  been  born,  but  rather  as  if  some  god  had  formed  them  with 
his  very  hands  and  adorned  them  with  every  excellence  of  mind 
and  body.  So  too  there  are  many  men  so  foolish  and  rude  that 
one  cannot  but  think  that  nature  brought  them  into  the  world 
out  of  contempt  or  mockery.  Just  as  these  can  usually  accom- 
plish little  even  with  constant  diligence  and  good  training,  so 
with  slight  pains  those  others  reach  the  highest  summit  of  excel- 
lence. And  to  give  you  an  instance:  you  see  my  lord  Don  Ippo- 
lito  d'Este,"  Cardinal  of  Ferrara,  who  has  enjoyed  such  fortune 



from  his  birth,  that  his  person,  his  aspect,  his  words  and  all  his 
movements  are  so  disposed  and  imbued  with  this  grace,  that  — 
although  he  is  young  —  he  exhibits  among  the  most  aged  prelates 
such  weight  of  character  that  he  seems  fitter  to  teach  than  to  be 
taught;  likewise  in  conversation  with  men  and  women  of  every 
rank,  in  games,  in  pleasantry  and  in  banter,  he  has  a  certain 
sweetness  and  manners  so  gracious,  that  whoso  speaks  with  him 
or  even  sees  him,  must  needs  remain  attached  to  him  forever. 

"But  to  return  to  our  subject:  I  say  that  there  is  a  middle 
state  between  perfect  grace  on  the  one  hand  and  senseless  folly 
on  the  other;  and  those  who  are  not  thus  perfectly  endowed  by 
nature,  with  study  and  toil  can  in  great  part  polish  and  amend 
their  natural  defects.  Besides  his  noble  birth,  then,  I  would 
have  the  Courtier  favoured  in  this  regard  also,  and  endowed  by 
nature  not  only  with  talent  and  beauty  of  person  and  feature, 
but  with  a  certain  grace  and  (as  we  say)  air  that  shall  make  him 
at  first  sight  pleasing  and  agreeable  to  all  who  see  him;  and  I 
would  have  this  an  ornament  that  should  dispose  and  unite  all 
his  actions,  and  in  his_outward,aspject,give  promise  of  whatever—, 
^isjworthy  the  society  and  favour  of  every  great  lord." 

15— Here,  without  waiting  longer,  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavi- 
cino  said: 

"  In  order  that  our  game  may  have  the  form  prescribed,  and 
that  we  may  not  seem  to  slight  the  privilege  given  us  to  contra- 
dict, I  say  that  this  nobility  of  birth  does  not  appear  to  me  so 
essential  in  the  Courtier;  and  if  I  thought  I  were  saying  what 
was  new  to  any  of  us,  I  should  cite  instances  of  many  men  born 
of  the  noblest  blood  who  have  been  full  of  vices;  and  on  the 
other  hand,  of  many  men  among  the  humbly  born  who  by  their 
virtue  have  made  their  posterity  illustrious.  And  if  what  you 
just  said  be  true,  namely  that  there  is  in  everything  this  occult 
influence  of  the  original  seed,  then  we  should  all  be  in  the  same 
case,  because  we  had  the  same  origin,  nor  would  any  man  be 
more  noble  than  another.  But  as  to  our  differences  and  grades 
of  eminence  and  obscurity,  I  believe  there  are  many  other 
causes:  among  which  I  rate  fortune  to  be  chief;  for  we  see  her 
holding  sway  in  all  mundane  affairs,  often  amusing  herself  by 
lifting  to  heaven  whom  she  pleases  (although  wholly  without 



merit),  and  burying  in  the  depths  those  most  worthy  to  be 

•'  I  quite  agree  with  what  you  say  as  to  the  good  fortune  of 
those  endowed  from  birth  with  advantages  of  mind  and  body: 
but  this  is  seen  as  well  among  the  humbly  born  as  among 
the  nobly  born,  since  nature  has  no  such  subtle  distinctions  as 
these;  and  often,  as  I  said,  the  highest  gifts  of  nature  are  found 
among  the  most  obscure.  Therefore,  since  this  nobility  of  birth 
is  won  neither  by  talent  nor  by  strengfth  nor  by  craft,  and  is 
rather  the  merit  of  our  predecessors  than  our  own,  it  seems  to 
me  too  extravagant  to  maintain  that  if  our  Courtier's  parents  be 
humbly  born,  all  his  good  qualities  are  spoiled,  and  that  all  those 
other  qualifications  that  you  mentioned  do  not  avail  to  raise  him 
to  the  summit  of  perfection;  I  mean  talent,  beauty  of  feature, 
comeliness  of  person,  and  that  grace  which  makes  him  always 
charming  to  everyone  at  first  sight." 

i6 Then_Count  Ludovico  replied: 

"  I  do  not  deny  that  the  same  virtues  may  rule  the  low-born 
and  the  noble:  but  (not  to  repeat  what  we  have  said  already  or 
the  many  other  arguments  that  could  be  adduced  in  praise  of 
noble  birth,  which  is  honoured  always  and  by  everyone,  it  being 
reasonable  that  good  should  beget  good),  since  we  have  to  form 
a  Courtier  without  flaw  and  endowed  with  every  praiseworthy 
quality,  it  seems  to  me  necessary  to  make  him  nobly  born,  as 
well  for  many  other  reasons  as  for  universal  opinion,  which  is  at 
once  disposed  in  favour  of  noble  birth.  For  if  there  be  two 
Courtiers  who  have  as  yet  given  no  impression  of  themselves  by 
good  or  evil  acts,  as  soon  as  the  one  is  known  to  have  been  born 
a  gentleman  and  the  other  not,  he  who  is  low-born  will  be  far 
less  esteemed  by  everyone  than  he  who  is  high-born,  and  will 
need,  much  effort  and  time  to  make  upon  men's  minds  that  good 
impression  which  the  other  will  have  achieved  in  a  moment  and 
merely  by  being  a  gentleman.  And  how  important  these  impres- 
sions are,  everyone  can  easily  understand:  for  in  our  own  case 
we  have  seen  men  present  themselves  in  this  house,  who,  being 
silly  and  awkward  in  the  extreme,  yet  had  throughout  Italy  the 
reputation  of  very  great  Courtiers;  and  although  they  were 
detected  and  recognized  at  last,  still  they  imposed  upon  us  for 



many  days,  and  maintained  in  our  minds  that  opinion  of  them 
which  they  first  found  impressed  there,  although  they  conducted 
themselves  after  the  slightness  of  their  worth.  We  have  seen 
others,  held  at  first  in  small  esteem,  then  admirably  successful 
at  the  last.  ^ 

"And  of  these  mistakes  there  are  various  causes:  and  among 
others,  the  regard  of  princes,  who  in  their  wish  to  perform  mira- 
cles sometimes  undertake  to  bestow  favour  on  a  man  who  seems 
to  them  to  merit  disfavour.  And  often  too  they  are  themselves 
deceived;  but  since  they  always  have  a  host  of  imitators,  their 
favour  begets  very  great  fame,  which  chiefly  guides  our  judg- 
ments: and  if  we  find  anything  that  seems  contrary  to  common 
opinion,  we  suspect  that  it  is  we  ourselves  who  are  wrong,  and 
always  seek  for  something  hidden:  because  it  seems  that  these 
universal  opinions  must  after  all  be  founded  on  fact  and  spring 
from  rational  causes;  and  because  our  minds  are  very  prone  to 
love  and  hate,  as  is  seen  in  battle-shows  and  games  and  every 
other  sort  of  contest,  wherein  the  spectators  without  apparent 
cause  become  partisans  of  one  side,  with  eager  wish  that  it  may 
win  and  the  other  lose.  In  our  opinion  of  men's  character  also, 
good  or  evil  fame  sways  our  minds  to  one  of  these  two  passions 
from  the  start;  and  thus  it  happens  that  we  usually  judge  with 
love  or  hate.  You  see  then  how  important  this  first  impression 
is,  and  how  he  ought  to  strive  to  make  a  good  one  at  the  outset, 
who  thinks  to  hold  the  rank  and  name  of  good  Courtier. 

17-—"  But  to  come  to  some  details,  I  am  of  opinion  that  the 
principal  and  true  profession  of  the  Courtier  ought  to  be  that  of 
arms;  which  I  would  have  him  follow  actively  above  all  else, 
and  be  known  among  others  as  bold  and  strong,  and  loyal  to 
whomsoever  he  serves.  And  he  will  win  a  reputation  for  these 
good  qualities  by  exercising  them  at  all  times  and  in  all  places, 
since  one  may  never  fail  in  this  without  severest  censure.  And 
just  as  among  women,  their  fair  fame  once  sullied  never  recovers 
its  first  lustre,  so  the  reputation  of  a  gentleman  who  bears  arms, 
if  once  it  be  in  the  least  tarnished  with  cowardice  or  other  dis- 
grace, remains  forever  infamous  before  the  world  and  full  of 
ignominy.  Therefore  the  more  our  Courtier  excels  in  this  art, 
the  more  he  will  be  worthy  of  praise;  and  yet  I  do  not  deem 



essential  in  him  that  perfect  knowledge  of  things  and  those  other 
qualities  that  befit  a  commander;  since  this  would  be  too  wide 
a  sea,  let  us  be  content,  as  we  have  said,  with  perfect  loyalty 
and  unconquered  courage,  and  that  he  be  always  seen  to  possess 
them.  For  the  courageous  are  often  recognized  even  more  in 
small  things  than  in  great;  and  frequently  in  perils  of  importance 
and  where  there  are  many  spectators,  some  men  are  to  be  found, 
who,  although  their  hearts  be  dead  within  them,  yet,  moved  by 
shame  or  by  the  presence  of  others,  press  forward  almost  with 
their  eyes  shut,  and  do  their  duty  God  knows  how.  While  on 
occasions  of  little  moment,  when  they  think  they  can  avoid  put- 
ting themselves  in  danger  without  being  detected,  they  are  glad 
to  keep  safe.  But  those  who,  even  when  they  do  not  expect  to  be 
observed  or  seen  or  recognized  by  anyone,  show  their  ardour  and 
neglect  nothing,  however  paltry,  that  may  be  laid  to  their  charge, 
— they  have  that  strength  of  mind  which  we  seek  in  our  Courtier. 
"  Not  that  we  would  have  him  look  so  fierce,  or  go  about 
blustering,  or  say  that  he  has  taken  his  cuirass  to  wife,  or 
threaten  with  those  grim  scowls  that  we  have  often  seen  in 
Berto;"  because  to  such  men  as  this,  one  might  justly  say  that 
which  a  brave  lady  jestingly  said  in  gentle  company  to  one 
whom  I  will  not  name  at  present  ;*"  who,  being  invited  by  her 
out  of  compliment  to  dance,  refused  not  only  that,  but  to  listen 
to  the  music,  and  many  other  entertainments  proposed  to  him, — 
saying  always  that  such  silly  trifles  were  not  his  business;  so 
that  at  last  the  lady  said,  'What  is  your  business,  then?'  He 
replied  with  a  sour  look, '  To  fight.'  Then  the  lady  at  once  said, 
•  Now  that  you  are  in  no  war  and  out  of  fighting  trim,  I  should 
think  it  were  a  good  thing  to  have  yourself  well  oiled,  and  to 
stow  yourself  with  all  your  battle  harness  in  a  closet  until  you 
be  needed,  lest  you  grow  more  rusty  than  you  are;'  and  so, 
amid  much  laughter  from  the  bystanders,  she  left  the  discom- 
fited fellow  to  his  silly  presumption, 
f  "Therefore  let  the  man  we  are  seeking,  be  very  bold,  stern, 
[  and  always  among  the  first,  where  the  enemy  are  to  be  seen; 
and  in  every  other  place,  gentle,  modest,  reserved,  above  all 
things  avoiding  ostentation  and  that  impudent  self-praise  by 
J  which  men  ever  excite  hatred  and  disgust  in  all  who  hear  them." 



i8.— Then  my  lord  Caspar  replied: 

"As  for  me,  I  have  known  few  men  excellent  in  anything 
whatever,  who  do  not  praise  themselves;  and  it  seems  to  me 
that  this  may  well  be  permitted  them;  for  when  anyone  who 
feels  himself  to  be  of  worth,  sees  that  he  is  not  known  to  the 
ignorant  by  his  works,  he  is  offended  that  his  worth  should  lie 
buried,  and  needs  must  in  some  way  hold  it  up  to  view,  in  order 
that  he  may  not  be  cheated  of  the  fame  that  is  the  true  reward., 
of  worthy  effort.  Thus  among  the  ancient  authors,  whoever 
carries  weight  seldom  fails  to  praise  himself.  They  indeed  are 
insufferable  who  do  this  without  desert,  but  such  we  do  not  pre- 
sume our  Courtier  to  be." 

The  Count  then  said: 

"  If  you  heard  what  I  said,  it  was  impudent  and  indiscriminate 
self-praise  that  I  censured:  and  as  you  say,  we  surely  ought  not 
to  form  a  bad  opinion  of  a  brave  man  who  praises  himself  mod- 
estly, nay  we  ought  rather  to  regard  such  praise  as  better  evi- 
dence than  if  it  came  from  the  mouth  of  others.  I  say,  however, 
that  he,  who  in  praising  himself  runs  into  no  errour  and  incurs 
no  annoyance  or  envy  at  the  hands  of  those  that  hear  him,  is  a 
very  discreet  man  indeed  and  merits  praise  from  others  in  addi- 
tion to  that  which  he  bestows  upon  himself;  because  it  is  a  very 
difficult  matter." 

Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  You  must  teach  us  that." 

The  Count  replied: 

"  Among  the  ancient  authors  there  is  no  lack  of  those  who 
have  taught  it;  but  to  my  thinking,  the  whole  art  consists  in 
saying  things  in  such  a  way  that  they  shall  not  seem  to  be  said 
to  that  end,  but  let  fall  so  naturally  that  it  was  impossible  not  to 
say  them,  and  while  seeming  always  to  avoid  self-praise,  yet  to 
achieve  it;  but  not  after  the  manner  of  those  boasters,  who  open 
their  mouths  and  let  the  words  come  forth  haphazard.  Like 
one  of  our  friends  a  few  days  ago,  who,  being  quite  run  through 
the  thigh  with  a  spear  at  Pisa,  said  he  thought  it  was  a  fly  that 
had  stung  him;  and  another  man  said  he  kept  no  mirrour  in  his 
room  because,  when  angry,  he  became  so  terrible  to  look  at, 
that  the  sight  of  himself  would  have  frightened  him  too  much." 


Everyone  laughed  at  this,  but  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  added: 

"  Why  do  you  laugh  ?  Do  you  not  know  that  Alexander  the 
Great,  on  hearing  the  opinion  of  a  philosopher"  to  be  that  there 
was  an  infinite  number  of  worlds,  began  to  weep,  and  being 
asked  why  he  wept,  replied, '  Because  I  have  not  yet  conquered 
one  of  them;'  as  if  he  would  fain  have  vanquished  all?  Does 
not  this  seem  to  you  a  greater  boast  than  that  about  the  fly- 
sting  ?  " 

Then  the  Count  said; 

"  Yes,  and  Alexander  was  a  greater  man  than  he  who  made 
the  other  speech.  But  extraordinary  men  are  surely  to  be  par- 
doned when  they  assume  much;  for  he  who  has  great  things  to 
do  must  needs  have  daring  to  do  them,  and  confidence  in  him- 
self, and  must  not  be  abject  or  mean  in  spirit,  yet  very  modest  in 
speech,  showing  less  confidence  in  himself  than  he  has,  lest  his 
self-confidence  lead  to  rashness." 

'9 — The  Count  now  paused  a  little,  and  messer  Bernardo 
Bibbiena  said,  laughing: 

"  I  remember  what  you  said  earlier,  that  this  Courtier  of  ours 
must  be  endowed  by  nature  with  beauty  of  countenance  and 
person,  and  with  a  grace  that  shall  make  him  so  agreeable. 
Grace  and  beauty  of  countenance  I  think  I  certainly  possess,  and 
this  is  the  reason  why  so  many  ladies  are  ardently  in  love  with 
me,  as  you  know;  but  I  am  rather  doubtful  as  to  the  beauty  of 
my  person,  especially  as  regards  these  legs  of  mine,  which  seem 
to  me  decidedly  less  well  proportioned  than  I  should  wish:  as  to 
my  bust  and  other  members  however,  I  am  quite  content.  Pray, 
now,  describe  a  little  more  in  particular  the  sort  of  body  that 
the  Courtier  is  to  have,  so  that  I  may  dismiss  this  doubt  and  set 
my  mind  at  rest." 

After  some  laughter  at  this,  the  Count  continued: 

"  Of  a  certainty  that  grace  of  countenance  can  be  truly  said  to 
be  yours,  nor  need  I  cite  further  example  than  this  to  show  what 
manner  of  thing  it  is,  for  we  unquestionably  perceive  your  aspect 
to  be  most  agreeable  and  pleasing  to  everyone,  albeit  the  linea- 
ments of  it  are  not  very  delicate.  Still  it  is  of  a  manly  cast  and 
at  the  same  time  full  of  grace;  and  this  characteristic  is  to  be 
found  in  many  different  types  of  countenance.    And  of  such  sort 



I  would  have  our  Courtier's  aspect;  not  so  soft  and  effeminate 
as  is  sought  by  many,  who  not  only  curl  their  hair  and  pluck 
their  brows,  but  gloss  their  faces  with  all  those  arts  employed  by 
the  most  wanton  and  unchaste  women  in  the  world;  and  in  their 
walk,  posture  and  every  act,  they  seem  so  limp  and  languid  that 
their  limbs  are  like  to  fall  apart;  and  they  pronounce  their  words 
so  mournfully  that  they  appear  about  to  expire  upon  the  spot: 
and  the  more  they  find  themselves  with  men  of  rank,  the  more 
they  affect  such  tricks.  Since  nature  has  not  made  them  women, 
as  they  seem  to  wish  to  appear  and  be,  they  should  be  treated 
not  as  good  women  but  as  public  harlots,  and  driven  not  merely 
from  the  courts  of  great  lords  but  from  the  society  of  honest  men. 

20.—  "  Then  coming  to  the  bodily  frame,  I  say  it  is  enough  if  this 
be  neither  extremely  short  nor  tall,  for  both  of  these  conditions 
excite  a  certain  contemptuous  surprise,  and  men  of  either  sort  are 
gazed  upon  in  much  the  same  way  that  we  gaze  on  monsters. 
Yet  if  we  must  offend  in  one  of  the  two  extremes,  it  is  preferable 
to  fall  a  little  short  of  the  just  measure  of  height  than  to  exceed 
it,  for  besides  often  being  dull  of  intellect,  men  thus  huge  of  body 
are  also  unfit  for  every  exercise  of  agility,  which  thing  I  should 
much  wish  in  the  Courtier.  And  so  I  would  have  him  well  built 
and  shapely  of  limb,  and  would  have  him  show  strength  and 
lightness  and  suppleness,  and  know  all  bodily  exercises  that  befit 
a  man  of  war:  whereof  I  think  the  first  should  be  to  handle 
every  sort  of  weapon  well  on  foot  and  on  horse,  to  understand 
the  advantages  of  each,  and  especially  to  be  familiar  with  those 
weapons  that  are  ordinarily  used  among  gentlemen;  for  besides 
the  use  of  them  in  war,  where  such  subtlety  in  contrivance  is 
perhaps  not  needful,  there  frequently  arise  differences  between 
one  gentleman  and  another,  which  afterwards  result  in  duels 
often  fought  with  such  weapons  as  happen  at  the  moment  to  be 
within  reach:  thus  knowledge  of  this  kind  is  a  very  safe  thing. 
Nor  am  I  one  of  those  who  say  that  skill  is  forgotten  in  the  hour 
of  need;  for  he  whose  skill  forsakes  him  at  such  a  time,  indeed 
gives  token  that  he  has  already  lost  heart  and  head  through  fear. 

21.— "  Moreover  I  deem  it  very  important  to  know  how  to 
wrestle,  for  it  is  a  great  help  in  the  use  of  all  kinds  of  weapons  on 
foot.     Then,  both  for  his  own  sake  and  for  that  of  his  friends,  he 



must  understand  the  quarrels  and  differences  that  may  arise,  and 
must  be  quick  to  seize  an  advantage,  always  showing  courage 
and  prudence  in  all  things.**  Nor  should  he  be  too  ready  to  fight 
except  when  honour  demands  it;  for  besides  the  great  danger 
that  the  uncertainty  of  fate  entails,  he  who  rushes  into  such 
affairs  recklessly  and  without  urgent  cause,  merits  the  severest 
censure  even  though  he  be  successful.  But  when  he  finds  him- 
self so  far  engaged  that  he  cannot  withdraw  without  reproach, 
he  ought  to  be  most  deliberate,  both  in  the  preliminaries  to  the 
duel  and  in  the  duel  itself,  and  always  show  readiness  and  daring. 
Nor  must  he  act  like  some,  who  fritter  the  affair  away  in  disputes 
and  controversies,  and  who,  having  the  choice  of  weapons,  select 
those  that  neither  cut  nor  pierce,  and  arm  themselves  as  if  they 
were  expecting  a  cannonade;  and  thinking  it  enough  not  to  be 
defeated,  stand  ever  on  the  defensive  and  retreat, —  showing 
therein  their  utter  cowardice.  And  thus  they  make  themselves 
a  laughing-stock  for  boys,  like  those  two  men  of  Ancona  who 
fought  at  Perugia  not  long  since,  and  made  everyone  laugh  who 
saw  them," 

"  And  who  were  they  ?  "  asked  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino, 

"  Two  cousins,"  replied  messer  Cesare. 

Then  the  Count  said: 

"In  their  fighting  they  were  as  like  as  two  brothers;"  and 
soon  continued:  "  Even  in  time  of  peace  weapons  are  often  used 
in  various  exercises,  and  gentlemen  appear  in  public  shows  be- 
fore the  people  and  ladies  and  great  lords.  For  this  reason  I 
would  have  our  Courtier  a  perfect  horseman  in  every  kind  of 
seat;  and  besides  understanding  horses  and  what  pertains  to 
riding,  I  would  have  him  use  all  possible  care  and  diligence  to 
lift  himself  a  little  beyond  the  rest  in  everything,  so  that  he  may 
be  ever  recognized  as  eminent  above  all  others.  And  as  we  read 
of  Alcibiades  that  he  surpassed  all  the  nations  with  whom  he 
lived,  each  in  their  particular  province,  so  I  would  have  this 
Courtier  of  ours  excel  all  others,  and  each  in  that  which  is  most 
their  profession.  And  as  it  is  the  especial  pride  of  the  Italians 
to  ride  well  with  the  rein,  to  govern  wild  horses  with  consum- 
mate skill,  and  to  play  at  tilting  and  jousting, —  in  these  things 
let  him  be  among  the  best  of  the  Italians.     In  tourneys  and  in 



the  arts  of  defence  and  attack,  let  him  shine  among  the  best  in 
France."'  In  stick-throwing,  bull-fighting»  and  in  casting  speara 
and  darts,  let  him  excel  among  the  Spaniards.  But  above  every- 
thing he  should  temper  all  his  movements  with  a  certain  good 
judgment  and  grace,  if  he  wishes  to  merit  that  universal  favour 
which  is  so  greatly  prized. 

22 — "There  are  also  many  other  exercises,  which  although 
not  immediately  dependent  upon  arms,  yet  are  closely  connected 
therewith,  and  greatly  foster  manly  sturdiness;  and  one  of  the 
chief  among  these  seems  to  me  to  be  the  chase,  because  it  bears 
a  certain  likeness  to  war:  and  truly  it  is  an  amusement  for  great 
lords  and  befitting  a  man  at  court,  and  furthermore  it  is  seen  to 
have  been  much  cultivated  among  the  ancients.  It  is  fitting  also 
to  know  how  to  swim,  to  leap,  to  run,  to  throw  stones,  for  besides" 
the  use  that  may  be  made  of  this  in  war,  a  man  often  has  occasion"" 
to  show  what  he  can  do  in  such  matters;  whence  good  esteem  is 
Jx)  be  won,  especially  with  the  multitude,  who  must  be  taken  into 
account  withal.  Another  admirable  exercise,  and  one  very  be- 
fitting a  man  at  court,  is  the  game  of  tennis,  in  which  are  well 
shown  the  disposition  of  the  body,  the  quickness  and  suppleness 
of  every  member,  and  all  those  qualities  that  are  seen  in  nearly 
every  other  exercise.  Nor  less  highly  do  I  esteem  vaulting  on 
horse,  which  although  it  be  fatiguing  and  difficult,  makes  a  man 
very  light  and  dexterous  more  than  any  other  thing;  and  besides 
its  utility,  if  this  lightness  is  accompanied  by  grace,  it  is  to  my 
thinking  a  finer  show  than  any  of  the  others.™ 

"  Our  Courtier  having  once  become  more  than  fairly  expert  in 
these  exercises,  I  think  he  should  leave  the  others  on  one  side: 
such  as  turning  summersaults,  rope-walking,  and  the  like,  which 
savour  of  the  mountebank  and  little  befit  a  gentleman. 

"  But  since  one  cannot  devote  himself  to  such  fatiguing  ex- 
ercises continually,  and  since  repetition  becomes  very  tire- 
some and  abates  the  admiration  felt  for  what  is  rare,  we  must 
always  diversify  our  life  with  various  occupations.  For  this 
reason  I  would  have  our  Courtier  sometimes  descend  to 
quieter  and  more  tranquil  exercises,  and  in  order  to  escape 
envy  and  to  entertain  himself  agreeably  with  everyone,  let  him 
do  whatever  others  do,  yet  never  departing  from  praiseworthy 



deeds,  and  governing  himself  with  that  good  judgment  which 
will  keep  him  from  all  folly;  but  let  him  laugh,  jest,  banter, 
frolic  and  dance,  yet  in  such  fashion  that  he  shall  always  appear 
genial  and  discreet,  and  that  everything  he  may  do  or  say  shall 
be  stamped  with  grace." 

23.— Then  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  We  certainly  ought  on  no  account  to  hinder  the  course  of 
this  discussion;  but  if  I  were  to  keep  silence,  I  should  be  neglect- 
ful both  of  the  right  I  have  to  speak  and  of  my  desire  to  know  one 
thing:  and  let  me  be  pardoned  if  I  ask  a  question  instead  of  con- 
tradicting; for  this  I  think  may  be  permitted  me,  after  the  prece- 
dent of  messer  Bernardo  here,  who  in  his  over  desire  to  be  held 
comely,  broke  the  rules  of  our  game  by  asking  a  question  instead 
of  contradicting." 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"  You  see  how  one  errour  begets  many.  Therefore  he  who 
transgresses  and  sets  a  bad  example,  like  messer  Bernardo, 
deserves  to  be  punished  not  only  for  his  own  transgression  but 
also  for  the  others'." 

Then  messer  Cesare  replied: 

"  In  that  case,  my  Lady,  I  shall  be  exempt  from  penalty,  since 
messer  Bernardo  is  to  be  punished  for  his  own  fault  as  well  as 

"  Nay,"  said  my  lady  Duchess,  "  you  both  ought  to  have  dou- 
ble punishment:  he  for  his  own  transgression  and  for  leading 
you  to  transgress;  you  for  your  own  transgression  and  for  imi- 
tating him." 

"  My  Lady,"  replied  messer  Cesare,  "  as  yet  I  have  not  trans- 
gressed; so,  to  leave  all  this  punishment  to  messer  Bernardo 
alone,  I  will  keep  silence." 

And  indeed  he  remained  silent;  when  my  lady  Emilia  laughed 
and  said: 

"  Say  whatever  you  like,  for  under  leave  of  my  lady  Duchess 
I  pardon  him  that  has  transgressed  and  him  that  shall  transgress, 
in  so  small  a  degree." 

"  I  consent,"  continued  my  lady  Duchess.  "  But  take  care  lest 
perchance  you  fall  into  the  mistake  of  thinking  to  gain  more  by 
being  merciful  than  by  being  just;  for  to  pardon  him  too  easily 



that  has  transgressed  is  to  wrong  him  that  transgresses  not. 
Yet  I  would  not  have  my  severity  reproach  your  indulgence, 
and  thus  be  the  cause  of  our  not  hearing  this  question  of  messer 

And  so,  being  given  the  signal  by  my  lady  Duchess  and  by  my 
lady  Emilia,  he  at  once  said: 

24.—"  If  I  remember  rightly.  Sir  Count,  I  think  you  have 
repeated  several  times  this  evening  that  the  Courtier  must  ac- 
company his  actions,  gestures,  habits,  in  short  his  every  move- 
ment, with  grace;  and  this  you  seem  to  regard  as  an  universal 
seasoning,  without  which  all  other  properties  and  good  qualities 
are  of  little  worth.  And  indeed  I  think  that  in  this  everyone 
would  allow  himself  to  be  persuaded  easily,  since  from  the  very 
force  of  the  word,  it  may  be  said  that  he  who  has  grace  finds 
grace/'  But  since  you  said  that  this  is  oftentimes  the  gift  of 
nature  and  of  heaven  and,  even  when  not  thus  perfect,  can  with 
care  and  pains  be  made  much  greater, —  those  men  who  are 
born  so  fortunate  and  so  rich  in  this  treasure  as  are  some  we 
see,  seem  to  me  in  this  to  have  little  need  of  other  master;  be- 
cause that  benign  favour  of  heaven  almost  in  despite  of  them- 
selves leads  them  higher  than  they  will,  and  makes  them  not 
only  pleasing  but  admirable  to  all  the  world.  Therefore  I  do 
not  discuss  this,  it  not  being  in  our  power  to  acquire  it  of  our- 
selves. But  they  who  have  received  from  nature  only  so  much, 
that  they  are  capable  of  becoming  graceful  by  pains,  industry 
and  care, —  I  long  to  know  by  what  art,  by  what  training,  by 
what  method,  they  can  acquire  this  grace,  as  well  in  bodily 
exercises  (in  which  you  esteem  it  to  be  so  necessary)  as  also  in 
everything  else  that  they  may  do  or  say.  Therefore,  since  by 
much  praise  of  this  quality  you  have  aroused  in  all  of  us,  I 
think,  an  ardent  thirst  to  pursue  it,  you  are  further  bound,  by  the 
charge  that  my  lady  Emilia  laid  upon  you,  to  satisfy  that  thirst 
by  teaching  us  how  to  attain  it." 

25-— "I  am  not  bound,"  said  the  Count,  "to  teach  you  how 
to  become  graceful,  or  anything  else;  but  only  to  show  you 
what  manner  of  man  a  perfect  Courtier  ought  to  be.  Nor  would 
I  in  any  case  undertake  the  task  of  teaching  you  this  perfection; 
especially  having  said  a  little  while  ago  that  the  Courtier  must 



know  how  to  wrestle,  vault,  and  do  many  other  things,  which  I 
am  sure  you  all  know  quite  as  well  as  if  I,  who  have  never 
learned  them,  were  to  teach  you.  For  just  as  a  good  soldier 
knows  how  to  tell  the  smith  what  fashion,  shape  and  quality  his 
armour  ought  to  have,  but  cannot  show  how  it  is  to  be  made  or 
forged  or  tempered;  so  I  perhaps  may  be  able  to  tell  you  what 
manner  of  man  a  perfect  Courtier  ought  to  be,  but  cannot  teach 
you  what  you  must  do  to  become  one. 

"  Yet  to  comply  with  your  request  as  far  as  is  within  my 
power, —  although  it  is  almost  a  proverb  that  grace  is  not  to  be 
learned, —  I  say  that  whoever  would  acquire  grace  in  bodily 
exercises  (assuming  first  that  he  be  by  nature  not  incapable), 
ought  to  begin  early  and  learn  the  rudiments  from  the  best 
masters.  And  how  important  this  seemed  to  King  Philip  of 
Macedon,  may  be  seen  from  the  fact  that  he  chose  Aristotle,  the 
famous  philosopher  and  perhaps  the  greatest  that  has  ever  been 
in  the  world,  to  teach  his  son  Alexander  the  first  elements  of  let- 
ters. And  of  the  men  whom  we  know  at  the  present  day,  con- 
sider how  well  and  how  gracefully  my  lord  Galeazzo  Sanseve- 
rino,"LGrand  Equerry  of  France,  performs  all  bodily  exercises; 
and  this  because  in  addition  to  the  natural  aptitude  of  person 
that  he  possesses,  he  has  taken  the  utmost  pains  to  study  with 
good  masters,  and  always  to  have  about  him  men  who  excel 
and  to  select  from  each  the  best  of  what  they  know:  for  just  as 
in  wrestling,  vaulting  and  in  the  use  of  many  sorts  of  weapons, 
he  has  taken  for  his  guide  our  friend  messer  Pietro  Monte,  who 
(as  you  know)  is  the  true  and  only  master  of  every  form  of 
trained  strength  and  agility, —  so  in  riding,  jousting  and  all  else, 
he  has  ever  had  before  his  eyes  the  most  proficient  men  that 
were  known  in  those  matters. 

26.—"  Therefore  he  who  wishes  to  be  a  good  pupil,  besides 
performing  his  tasks  well,  must  put  forth  every  effort  to  resem- 
ble his  master,  and,  if  it  were  possible,  to  transform  himself  into 
his  master.  And  when  he  feels  that  he  has  made  some  progress, 
it  will  be  very  profitable  to  observe  different  men  of  the  same 
calhng,  and  governing  himself  with  that  good  judgment  which 
must  ever  be  his  guide,  to  go  about  selecting  now  this  thing 
from  one  and  that  thing  from  another.    And  as  the  bee  in  the 



green  meadows  is  ever  wont  to  rob  the  flowers  among  the 
grass,  so  our  Courtier  must  steal  this  grace  from  all  who 
seem  to  possess  it,  taking  from  each  that  part  which  shall  most 
be  worthy  praise;  and  not  act  like  a  friend  of  ours  whom  you  all 
know,  who  thought  he  greatly  resembled  King  Ferdinand  the 
Younger*"  of  Aragon,  and  made  it  his  care  to  imitate  the  latter 
in  nothing  but  a  certain  trick  of  continually  raising  the  head 
and  twisting  one  side  of  the  mouth,  which  the  king  had  con- 
tracted from  some  infirmity.  And  there  are  many  such,  who 
think  they  gain  a  point  if  only  they  be  like  a  great  man  in  some 
thing;  and  frequently  they  devote  themselves  to  that  which  is 
his  only  fault. 

"  But  having  before  now  often  considered  whence  this  grace 
springs,  laying  aside  those  men  who  have  it  by  nature,  I  find  one 
universal  rule  concerning  it,  which  seems  to  me  worth  more  in 
this  matter  than  any  other  in  all  things  human  that  are  done  or 
said:  and  that  is  to  avoid  affectation  to  the  uttermost  and  as  it 
were  a  very  sharp  and  dangerous  rock;  and,  to  use  possibly  a 
new  word,  to  practise  in  everything  a  certain  nonchalance"  that  -.^^-^ 
shall  conceal  design  and  show  that  what  is  done  and  said  is  done^  "^ 
jwithout  effort  and  almost  without  thought,  From  this  I  believe 
grace  is  in  large  measure  derived,  because  everyone  knows  the 
difficulty  of  those  things  that  are  rare  and  well  done,  and  there- 
fore facility  in  them  excites  the  highest  admiration;  while  on  the 
other  hand,  to  strive  and  as  the  saying  is  to  drag  by  the  hair,  is 
extremely  ungraceful,  and  makes  us  esteem  everything  slightly, 
however  great  it  be. 

"Accordingly  we  may  affirm  that  to  be  true  art  which  does 
not  appear  to  be  art;  nor  to  anything  must  we  give  greater  care 
than  to  conceal  art,  for  if  it  is  discovered,  it  quite  destroys  our 
credit  and  brings  us  into  small  esteem.  And  I  remember  having 
once  read  that  there  were  several  very  excellent  orators  of  an- 
tiquity, who  among  their  other  devices  strove  to  make  everyone 
believe  that  they  had  no  knowledge  of  letters;  and  hiding  their 
knowledge  they  pretended  that  their  orations  were  composed 
very  simply  and  as  if  springing  rather  from  nature  and  truth 
than  from  study  and  art;  the  which,  if  it  had  been  detected, 
would  have  made  men  wary  of  being  duped  by  it. 




"  Thus  you  see  how  the  exhibition  of  art  and  study  so  intense 
destroys  the  grace  in  everything.  Which  of  you  is  there  who 
does  not  laugh  when  our  friend  messer  Pierpaolo  dances  in  his 
peculiar  way,  with  those  capers  of  his, —  legs  stiff  to  the  toe  and 
head  motionless,  as  if  he  were  a  stick,  and  with  such  intentness 
that  he  actually  seems  to  be  counting  the  steps  ?  What  eye  so 
blind  as  not  to  see  in  this  the  ungracefulness  of  affectation, — and 
in  many  men  and  women  who  are  here  present,  the  grace  of 
that  nonchalant  ease  (for  in  the  case  of  bodily  movements  many 
call  it  thus),  showing  by  word  or  laugh  or  gesture  that  they  have 
no  care  and  are  thinking  more  of  everything  else  than  of  that,  to 
make  the  onlooker  think  they  can  hardly  go  amiss  ?  " 

27-— Messer  Bernardo  Bibbiena  here  said,  without  waiting: 

"  Now  at  last  our  friend  messer  Roberto*'  has  found  someone 
to  praise  the  manner  of  his  dancing,  as  all  the  rest  of  you  seem 
to  value  it  lightly;  because  if  this  merit  consists  in  nonchalance, 
and  in  appearing  to  take  no  heed  and  to  be  thinking  more  of 
everything  else  than  of  what  you  are  doing,  messer  Roberto  in 
dancing  has  no  peer  on  earth;  for  to  show  plainly  that  he  is  not 
thinking  about  it,  he  often  lets  the  cloak  drop  from  his  shoulders 
and  the  slippers  from  his  feet,  and  still  goes  on  dancing  without 
picking  up  either  the  one  or  the  other." 

Then  the  Count  replied: 

"  Since  you  insist  on  my  talking,  I  will  speak  further  of  our 
faults.  Do  you  not  perceive  that  what  you  call  nonchalance  in 
messer  Roberto,  is  -really  affectation  ?  For  it  is  clearly  seen  that 
he  is  striving  with  all  his  might  to  seem  to  be  taking  no  thought, 
and  this  is  taking  too  much  thought;  and  since  it  passes  the  true 
limits  of  moderation,  his  nonchalance  is  affected  and  unbecom- 
ing; and  it  is  a  thing  that  works  precisely  the  reverse  of  the 
effect  intended,  that  is  the  concealment  of  art.  Thus  in  non- 
chalance (which  is  praiseworthy  in  itself),  I  do  not  think  that  it 
is  less  a  vice  of  affectation  to  let  the  clothes  fall  from  one's  back, 
than  in  care  of  dress  (which  also  is  praiseworthy  in  itself)  to 
hold  the  head  stiff  for  fear  of  disarranging  one's  locks,  or  to 
carry  a  mirrour  in  the  peak  of  one's  cap  and  a  comb  in  one's 
sleeve,  and  to  have  a  valet  follow  one  about  the  streets  with 
sponge  and  brush:  for  such  care  in  dress  and  such  nonchalance 



both  touch  upon  excess,  which  is  always  offensive  and  contrary 
to  that  pure  and  charming  simplicity  which  is  so  pleasing  to  the 
human  mind, 

"  You  see  how  ungraceful  a  rider  is  who  strives  to  sit  bolt  up- 
right in  the  saddle  after  the  manner  we  are  wont  to  call  Vene- 
.tian,"  —  as  compared  with  another  who  seems  not  to  be  thinking 
aFout  it,  and  sits  his  horse  as  free  and  steady  as  if  he  were  afoot. 
How  much  more  pleasing  and  how  much  more  praised  is  a 
gentleman  who  carries  arms,  if  he  be  modest,  speak  little  and 
boast  little,  than  another  who  is  forever  sounding  his  own 
praises,  and  with  blasphemy  and  bluster  seems  to  be  hurling 
defiance  at  the  world!  This  too  is  naught  but  affectation  of 
wishing  to  appear  bold.  And  so  it  is  with  every  exercise,  nay 
with  everything  that  can  be  done  or  said  in  the  world," 

28.— Then  my  lord  Magnifico'  said: 

"  This  is  true  also  with  music,  wherein  it  is  a  very  great  fault 
to  place  two  perfect  consonances  one  after  the  other,  so  that  our 
very  sense  of  hearing  abhors  it  and  often  enjoys  a  second  or 
seventh,  which  in  itself  is  a  harsh  and  intolerable  discord.  And 
the  reason  is  that  repetition  of  perfect  consonances  begets 
satiety  and  exhibits  a  too  affected  harmony;  which  is  avoided 
by  introducing  imperfect  consonances,  and  thus  a  kind  of  con- 
trast is  given,  whereby  our  ears  are  held  more  in  suspense,  and 
more  eagerly  await  and  enjoy  the  perfect  consonances,  and 
sometimes  delight  in  that  discord  of  the  second  or  seventh,  as  in 
something  unpremeditated." 

"  You  see  then,"  replied  the  Count,  "  the  harmful  effect  of 
affectation  in  this  as  in  other  things.  It  is  said  also  to  have 
been  proverbial  among  some  very  excellent  painters  of  an- 
tiquity, that  over  diligence  is  harmful,  and  Protogenes  is  said 
to  have  been  censured  by  Apelles  because  he  did  not  know 
when  to  take  his  hand  from  the  tablet,"" 

Then  messer  Cesare  said: 

"  Methinks  our  friend  fra  Serafino  has  this  same  fault,  of  not 
knowing  when  to  take  his  hands  from  the  table,  at  least  until  all 
the  food  has  been  taken  from  it  too."'" 

The  Count  laughed,  and  continued: 

"  Apelles  meant  that  in  his  painting  Protogenes  did  not  know 



when  he  had  finished,  which  was  the  same  thing  as  reproving 
him  for  bemg  affected  in  his  work.     Thus  this  excellence,  which 
is  the  opposite  of  affectation  and  which  for  the  present  we  call 
Tnonchalance,  besides  being  the  true  fountain  from  which  grace 
springs,  carries  with  it  another  ornament,  which,  in  accompany- 
ing any  human  action  whatever  and  however  trifling  it  be,  not 
only  at  once  reveals  the  knowledge  of  him  who  performs  it,  but 
r  often  leads  us  to  rate  his  knowledge  as  much  greater  than  in  fact 
yit  is^  because  it  impresses  upon  the  minds  of  the  bystanders  the 
idea  that  he  who  does  well  so  easily,  knows  much  more  than  he 
does,  and  that  if  he  were  to  use  care  and  effort  in  what  he  did, 
he  could  do  it  far  better. 

"  And  to  multiply  like  examples,  here  is  a  man  who  handles 
weapons,  either  about  to  throw  a  dart  or  holding  a  sword  in  his 
hand  or  other  weapon;  if  he  nimbly  and  without  thinking  puts 
himself  in  an  attitude  of  readiness,  with  such  ease  that  his  body 
and  all  his  members  seem  to  fall  into  that  posture  naturally  and 
quite  without  effort, — although  he  do  no  more,  he  will  prove  him- 
self to  everyone  to  be  perfect  in  that  exercise.  Likewise  in  dancing, 
a  single  step,  a  single  movement  of  the  person  that  is  graceful 
and  not  forced,  soon  shows  the  knowledge  of  the  dancer.  A 
musician  who  in  singing  utters  a  single  note  ending  with  sweet 
tone  in  a  little  group  of  four  notes  with  such  ease  as  to  seem 
spontaneous,  shows  by  that  single  touch  that  he  can  do  much 
more  than  he  is  doing.  Often  too  in  painting,  a  single  line  not 
laboured,  a  single  brush-stroke  easily  drawn,  so  that  it  seems  as 
if  the  hand  moves  unbidden  to  its  aim  according  to  the  painter's 
wish,  without  being  guided  by  care  or  any  skill,  clearly  reveals 
the  excellence  of  the  craftsman,  which  every  man  appreciates 
according  to  his  capacity  for  judging.  And  the  same  is  true  of 
nearly  everything  else. 

"  Our  Courtier  then  will  be  esteemed  excellent  and  will  attain 
grace  in  everything,  particularly  in  speaking,  if  he  avoids  affec- 
tation; into  which  fault  many  fall,  and  often  more  than  others, 
some  of  us  Lombards;  who,  if  they  have  been  a  year  away  from 
home,  on  their  return  at  once  begin  to  speak  Roman,  sometimes 
Spanish  or  French,  and  God  knows  how.  And  all  this  comes 
from  over  zeal  to  appear  widely  informed;  in  such  fashion  do 



men  devote  care  and  assiduity  to  acquiring  a  very  odious  fault. 
And  truly  it  would  be  no  light  task  for  me,  if  I  were  to  try  in 
these  discussions  of  ours  to  use  those  antique  Tuscan  words  that 
are  quite  rejected  by  the  usage  of  the  Tuscans  of  to-day;  and 
besides  I  think  everyone  would  laugh  at  me." 

29.— Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"  Of  course  in  discussing  among  ourselves  as  we  now  are 
doing,  perhaps  it  would  be  amiss  to  use  those  antique  Tuscan 
words,  since  (as  you  say)  they  would  be  fatiguing  to  him  who 
uttered  them  and  to  him  who  listened  to  them,  and  by  many 
would  not  be  understood  without  difficulty.  But  if  one  were 
writing,  I  should  certainly  think  he  would  be  wrong  not  to  use 
them,  because  they  add  much  grace  and  authority  to  writing, 
and  from  them  there  results  a  style  more  grave  and  full  of 
majesty  than  from  modern  words." 

"  I  do  not  know,"  replied  the  Count,  "  that  writings  can  gain 
grace  and  authority  from  those  words  that  ought  to  be  avoided, 
not  merely  in  such  talk  as  we  are  now  engaged  in  (which  you 
yourself  admit),  but  also  under  every  other  circumstance  that 
can  be  imagined.  For  if  any  man  of  good  judgment  should 
chance  to  make  a  speech  on  serious  matters  before  the  very 
senate  of  Florence,  which  is  the  capital  of  Tuscany,  or  even  to 
converse  privately  with  a  person  of  weight  in  that  city  about 
important  business,  or  with  his  closest  friend  about  affairs  of 
pleasure,  with  ladies  or  gentlemen  about  love,  or  joking  or  jest- 
ing at  feasts,  games,  and  where  you  will, — or  whatever  the  time, 
place  or  matter, —  I  am  sure  he  would  avoid  using  those  antique 
Tuscan  words;  and  if  he  did  use  them,  besides  exciting  ridicule, 
he  would  give  no  little  annoyance  to  everyone  who  listened  to 

"  It  seems  to  me  then  a  very  strange  thing  to  use  as  good  in 
writing  those  words  that  are  avoided  as  faulty  in  every  sort  of 
speaking,  and  to  insist  that  what  is  never  proper  in  speaking,  is 
the  most  proper  style  that  can  be  used  in  writing.  For  in  my 
opinion  writing  is  really  nothing  but  a  form  of  speech,  which 
still  remains  after  we  have  spoken,  as  it  were  an  image  or  rather 
the  life  of  our  words:  and  thus  in  speech,  which  is  lost  as  soon 
as  the  sound  has  gone  forth,  some  things  are  bearable  perhaps 



that  are  not  in  writing,  because  writing  preserves  the  words  and 
subjects  them  to  the  judgment  of  the  reader  and  gives  time  to 
consider  them  advisedly.  Hence  in  writing  it  is  reasonable 
to  take  greater  pains  to  make  it  more  refined  and  correct;  not 
however  in  such  wise  that  the  written  words  may  be  unlike  the 
spoken,  but  that,  in  writing,  choice  be  made  of  the  most  beautiful 
that  are  used  in  speaking.  And  if  that  were  allowed  in  writing 
which  is  not  allowed  in  speaking,  I  think  a  very  great  inconve- 
nience would  arise:  which  is  that  greater  license  could  be  taken 
in  that  respect  wherein  greater  care  ought  to  be  taken;  and  the 
industry  bestowed  on  writing  would  work  harm  instead  of  good. 

"  Therefore  it  is  certain  that  what  is  proper  in  writing,  is 
proper  also  in  speaking,  and  that  manner  of  speaking  is  most 
beautiful  which  is  like  beautiful  writing.  Moreover  I  think  it  is 
far  more  necessary  to  be  understood  in  writing  than  in  speaking, 
because  those  who  write  are  not  always  present  before  those 
who  read,  as  those  who  speak  are  present  before  those  who 
speak."  But  I  should  praise  him,  who  besides  avoiding  many 
antique  Tuscan  words,  acquired  facility,  both  writing  and  speak- 
ing, in  the  use  of  those  that  are  to-day  familiar  in  Tuscany  and 
in  the  other  parts  of  Italy,  and  that  have  comeliness  of  sound. 
And  I  think  that  whoever  imposes  other  rule  upon  himself,  is  not 
very  sure  of  escaping  that  affectation  which  is  so  much  censured 
and  of  which  we  were  speaking  earlier." 

30-— Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"  Sir  Count,  I  cannot  gainsay  you  that  writing  is  a  kind  of 
speech.  Indeed,  I  say  that  if  words  that  are  spoken  have  any 
obscurity  in  them,  the  meaning  does  not  penetrate  the  mind  of 
him  who  hears,  and  passing  without  being  understood,  comes  to 
naught:  which  does  not  occur  in  writing,  because  if  the  words 
that  the  writer  uses  carry  with  them  a  little,  I  will  not  say  diffi- 
culty, but  subtlety  that  is  recondite  and  thus  not  so  familiar  as 
are  the  words  that  are  commonly  used  in  speaking, —  they  give  a 
certain  greater  authority  to  the  writing,  and  cause  the  reader  to 
proceed  more  cautiously  and  collectedly,  to  consider  more,  and 
to  enjoy  the  genius  and  learning  of  him  who  writes;  and  by 
judiciously  exerting  himself  a  little,  he  tastes  that  delight  which 
is  found  in  the  pursuit  of  difficult  things.    And  if  the  ignorance 



of  him  who  reads  is  so  great  that  he  cannot  overcome  those  diffi- 
culties, it  is  not  the  fault  of  the  writer,  nor  on  this  account  ought 
that  style  to  be  deemed  unbeautiful. 

"  Therefore  in  writing,  I  believe  it  is  proper  to  use  Tuscan 
words  used  only  by  the  ancient  Tuscans,  because  that  is  great 
proof  and  tested  by  time,  that  they  are  good  and  effective  to 
express  the  sense  in  which  they  are  used.  And  besides  this, 
they  have  that  grace  and  venerableness  which  age  lends  not 
only  to  words,  but  to  buildings,  to  statues,  to  pictures,  and  to 
everything  that  is  able  to  attain  it,  and  often  merely  by  their 
splendour  and  dignity  they  make  diction  beautiful,  by  virtue 
whereof  (and  of  grace)  every  theme,  however  mean  it  be,  can  be 
so  adorned  as  to  merit  very  high  praise.  But  this  custom  of 
yours,  by  which  you  set  such  store,  seems  to  me  very  dangerous, 
and  often  it  may  be  bad;  and  if  some  fault  of  speech  is  found 
widely  prevalent  among  the  ignorant  many,  methinks  it  ought 
not  on  this  account  to  be  taken  as  a  rule  and  followed  by  other 
men.  Moreover  customs  are  very  diverse,  nor  is  there  a  noble 
city  of  Italy  that  has  not  a  different  manner  of  speaking  from  all 
the  others.  But  as  you  do  not  limit  yourself  to  declaring  which 
is  the  best,  a  man  might  as  well  adopt  the  Bergamasque  as  the 
Florentine,  and  according  to  you  it  would  be  no  errour.'' 

"  Therefore  I  think  that  whoever  wishes  to  avoid  all  doubt 
and  be  quite  safe,  must  needs  select  as  model  someone  who  by 
consent  of  all  is  rated  good,  and  must  take  him  as  a  constant 
guide  and  shield  against  any  possible  adverse  critic.  And  this 
model  (in  the  vernacular,  I  mean)  I  do  not  think  should  be  other 
than  Petrarch™  and  Boccaccio;  and  whoever  departs  from 
these  two,  gropes  like  one  who  walks  in  the  dark  without  a  light 
and  thus  often  mistakes  the  road.  But  we  are  so  daring  that 
we  do  not  deign  to  do  that  which  the  good  writers  of  old  did, — 
that  is,  devote  themselves  to  imitation,  without  which  I  think  a 
man  cannot  write  well.*"  And  methinks  good  proof  of  this  is 
shown  us  by  Virgil,  who  by  his  genius  and  judgment  so  divine 
took  from  all  posterity  the  hope  of  ever  being  able  to  imitate 
him  well,  yet  fain  would  imitate  Homer." 

3I-— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  Pallavicino  said: 

"  This  discussion  about  writing  is  certainly  well  worth  listen- 



ing  to:  still  it  would  be  more  to  our  purpose  if  you  were  to 
teach  us  in  what  manner  the  Courtier  ought  to  speak,  for  I 
think  he  has  greater  need  of  it  and  more  often  has  occasion  to 
employ  speaking  than  writing." 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Nay,  for  a  Courtier  so  excellent  and  so  perfect  there  is  no 
doubt  but  it  is  necessary  to  know  both  the  one  and  the  other, 
and  that  without  these  two  accomplishments  perhaps  all  the 
rest  would  not  be  very  worthy  of  praise.  So  if  the  Count  wishes 
to  perform  his  duty,  he  will  teach  the  Courtier  not  only  how  to 
speak,  but  also  how  to  write  well." 

Then  the  Count  said : 

"  My  lord  Magnifico,  that  task  I  will  on  no  account  accept;  for 
great  folly  would  be  mine  to  pretend  to  teach  others  that  which 
I  do  not  myself  know,  and  (even  if  I  did  know  it)  to  think  myself 
able  to  do  in  only  a  few  words  that  which  with  so  much  care 
and  pains  has  hardly  been  done  by  most  learned  men, —  to  whose 
works  I  should  refer  our  Courtier,  if  I  were  indeed  bound  to 
teach  him  how  to  write  and  speak." 

Messer  Cesare  said: 

"  My  lord  Magnifico  means  speaking  and  writing  the  vernacu- 
lar [Italian],  and  not  Latin;  so  those  works  by  learned  men  are 
not  to  our  purpose.  But  in  this  matter  there  is  need  for  you  to 
tell  us  what  you  know  about  it,  because  for  the  rest  we  will  hold 
you  excused." 

The  Count  replied: 

"  I  have  told  you  that  already;  but  as  we  are  speaking  of  the 
Tuscan  tongue,  perhaps  it  would  be,  more  than  any  other  man's, 
my  lord  Magnifico's  office  to  give  an  opinion  on  it." 

The  Magnifico  said : 

"  I  cannot  and  in  reason  ought  not  to  contradict  any  man  who 
says  that  the  Tuscan  tongue  is  more  beautiful  than  the  others."' 
It  is  very  true  that  in  Petrarch  and  in  Boccaccio  are  found  many 
words  that  are  now  discarded  by  the  custom  of  to-day;  and 
these  I  for  my  part  would  never  use  either  in  speaking  or  in 
writing;  and  I  believe  that  they  themselves,  if  they  had  survived 
until  now,  would  no  longer  use  those  words." 

Then  messer  Federico  said: 



"  Indeed  they  would.  And  you  Tuscan  gentlemen  ought  to 
keep  up  your  mother  tongue,  and  not  suffer  it  to  decay,  as  you 
do, — so  that  now  one  may  say  that  there  is  less  knowledge  of  it 
in  Florence  than  in  many  other  parts  of  Italy." 

Then  messer  Bernardo  said: 

"  These  words  that  are  no  longer  used  in  Florence  have  sur- 
vived among  the  country  folk,  and  are  rejected  by  the  gentle  as 
corrupt  and  spoiled  with  age." 

32.— Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"  Let  us  not  wander  from  our  main  purpose,  but  have  Count 
Ludovico  teach  the  Courtier  how  to  speak  and  write  well,  whe- 
ther it  be  in  the  Tuscan  or  any  other  dialect." 

"  My  Lady,"  replied  the  Count,  "  I  have  already  told  what  I 
know  about  it;  and  I  hold  that  the  same  rules  which  serve  to 
teach  the  one,  serve  also  to  teach  the  other.  But  since  you 
require  it  of  me,  I  will  make  such  response  as  I  may  to  messer 
Federico,  who  has  a  different  opinion  from  mine;  and  perhaps  I 
shall  have  need  to  discuss  the  matter  somewhat  more  diffusely 
than  is  right.     However,  it  shall  be  all  I  can  tell. 

"  And  first  I  say  that  in  my  judgment  this  language  of  ours»_ 
whjch  we  call  vulgar,  is  still  tender  and  new,  although  it  be, 
already  long  in  use.  For  since  Italy  was  not  only  vexed  and 
j-avaged  but  long  inhabited  by  the  barbarians,  the  Latin  Ian-" 
guage  was  corrupted  and  spoiled  by  contact  with  those  nations, 
and  from  that  corruption  other  languages  were  born:  and  like 
rivers  that  from  the  crest  of  the  Apennines  separate  and  flow 
down  into  the  two  seas,  so  also  these  languages  divided,  and 
some  of  them  tinged  with  Latinity  reached  by  diverse  paths,  one 
this  country  and  one  that ;  and  one  of  them  remained  in  Italy 
tinged  with  barbarism.  Thus  our  language  was  long  unformed 
and  various,  from  having  Tiad  no  one  to  bestow  care  upon 
_it  or  write  in  it  or  try  to  give  it  splendour  or  grace:  but  after- 
wards it  was  somewhat  more  cultivated  in  Tuscany  than  in 
jthe  other  parts  of  Italy.  And  so  its  flower  seems  to  have  re- 
mained there  even  from  those  early  times,  because  that  nation 
more  than  the  others  preserved  a  sweet  accent  and  a  proper 
grammatical  order,  and  have  had  three  noble  writers'"  who 
expressed  their  thoughts   ingeniously  and  in  those  words  and 



terms  that  the  custom  of  their  times  permitted:  wherein  I  think 
Petrarch  succeeded  more  happily  than  the  others  in  amourous 

"  Afterwards  from  time  to  time,  not  only  in  Tuscany  but  in  all 
Italy,  among  noble  men  and  those  well  versed  in  courts  and 
arms  and  letters,  there  arose  some  desire  to  speak  and  write 
more  elegantly  than  had  been  done  in  that  rude  and  uncultivated 
age,  when  the  blaze  of  the  calamities  inflicted  by  the  barbarians 
was  not  yet  quenched.  Many  words  w^ere  laid  aside,  as  well  in 
the  city  of  Florence  itself  and  in  all  Tuscany  as  in  the  rest  of 
Italy,  and  instead  of  them  others  were  taken  up;  and  herein 
there  thus  occurred  that  change  which  takes  place  in  all  human 
affairs  and  has  always  happened  in  the  case  of  the  other  lan- 
guages also.  For  if  those  earliest  writings  in  ancient  Latin  had 
survived  until  now,  we  should  see  that  Evander  and  Turnus" 
and  the  other  Latins  of  that  age  spoke  differently  from  the  last 
Roman  kings  and  the  first  consuls.  See  how  the  verses  that  the 
Salian  priests  chaunted  were  hardly  understood  by  posterity;*^ 
but  being  established  in  that  form  by  the  first  founders,  out 
of  religious  reverence  they  were  not  changed.  Likewise  the 
orators  and  poets  continued  one  after  another  to  lay  aside  many 
words  used  by  their  predecessors:  thus  Antonius,  Crassus, 
Hortensius  and  Cicero  avoided  many  of  Cato's  words,  and  Vir- 
gil avoided  many  of  Ennius's;*^*  and  the  others  did  the  same. 
For  although  they  had  reverence  for  antiquity,  yet  they  did  not 
esteem  it  so  highly  as  to  consent  to  be  bound  by  it  in  the  way  you 
would  have  us  bound  by  it  now.  Nay  they  criticised  it  where 
they  saw  fit,  as  did  Horace,  who  says  that  his  forefathers  lauded 
Plautus  foolishly,  and  thinks  he  has  a  right  to  gather  in  new 
words.*  And  in  sundry  places  Cicero  reprehends  many  of  his 
predecessors,  and  slightingly  affirms  that  Sergius  Galba's  ora- 
tions had  an  antique  flavour,"'  and  says  that  Ennius  himself  dis- 
prized  his  predecessors  in  certain  things:  so  that  if  we  would 
imitate  the  ancients,  in  doing  so  we  shall  not  imitate  them.  And 
Virgil,  who  (you  say)  imitated  Homer,  did  not  imitate  him  in 

33 — "Therefore   I   for   my   part   should    always    avoid   using 
these  antique  words,  save  however  in  certain  places,  and  seldom 



even  there;  and  it  seems  to  me  that  whoever  uses  them  other- 
wise makes  a  mistake,  not  less  than  he  who,  in  order  to  imitate 
the  ancients,  should  wish  to  feed  on  acorns  when  wheat  had 
been  discovered  in  plenty.  And  since  you  say  that  by  their 
mere  splendour  of  antiquity,  antique  words  so  adorn  every  sub- 
ject, however  mean  it  be,  that  they  can  make  it  worthy  of  much 
praise, —  I  say  that  I  do  not  set  such  store,  not  only  by  these  an- 
tique words  but  even  by  good  ones,  as  to  think  that  they  ought 
in  reason  to  be  prized  without  the  pith  of  beautiful  thoughts;  for 
to  divide  thought  from  words  is  to  divide  soul  from  body,  which 
can  be  done  in  neither  case  without  destruction.  J 

"  So  I  think  that  what  is  chiefly  important  and  necessary  for 
the  Courtier,  in  order  to  speak  and  write  well,  is  knowledge;  for 
he  who  is  ignorant  and  has  nothing  in  his  mind  that  merits 
being  heard,  can  neither  say  it  nor  write  it. 

"  Next  he  must  arrange  in  good  order  what  he  has  to  say  or 
write;  then  express  it  well  in  words,  which  (if  I  do  not  err) 
ought  to  be  precise,  choice,  rich  and  rightly  formed,  but  above 
all,  in  use  even  among  the  masses;  because  such  words  as  these 
make  the  grandeur  and  pomp  of  speech,  if  the  speaker  has  good  | 
sense  and  carefulness,  and  knows  how  to  choose  the  words  most  1 
expressive  of  his  meaning,  and  to  exalt  them,  to  mould  them  ' 
like  wax  to  his  will,  and  to  arrange  them  in  such  position  and 
order  that  they  shall  at  a  glance  show  and  make  known  their 
dignity  and  splendour,  like  pictures  placed  in  good  and  proper 

"And  this  I  say  as  well  of  writing  as  of  speaking:  in  which 
however  some  things  are  required  that  are  not  needful  in 
writing, —  such  as  a  good  voice,  not  too  thin  and  soft  like  a 
woman's,  nor  yet  so  stern  and  rough  as  to  smack  of  the  rustic's, — 
but  sonorous,  clear,  sweet  and  well  sounding,  with  distinct  enun- 
ciation, and  with  proper  bearing  and  gestures;  which  I  think 
consist  in  certain  movements  of  the  whole  body,  not  affected  or 
violent,  but  tempered  by  a  calm  face  and  with  a  play  of  the  eyes 
that  shall  give  an  effect  of  grace,  accord  with  the  words,  and  as 
far  as  possible  express  also,  together  with  the  gestures,  the 
speaker's  intent  and  feeling. 

"  But  all  these  things  would  be  vain  and  of  small  moment,  if 



the  thoughts  expressed  by  the  words  were  not  beautiful,  inge- 
nious, acute,  elegant  and  grave, — according  to  the  need." 

34-— Then  my  lord  Morello  said: 

"  If  this  Courtier  speaks  with  so  much  elegance  and  grace,  I 
doubt  if  anyone  will  be  found  among  us  who  will  understand 

"  Nay,  he  will  be  understood  by  everyone,"  replied  the  Count, 
"  because  facility  is  no  impediment  to  elegance. 

"  Nor  would  I  have  him  speak  always  of  grave  matters,  but  of 
amusing  things,  of  games,  jests  and  waggery,  according  to  the 
occasion;  but  sensibly  of  everything,  and  with  readiness  and 
lucid  fullness;  and  in  no  place  let  him  show  vanity  or  childish 
folly.  And  again  when  he  is  speaking  on  an  obscure  or  difficult 
subject,  I  would  have  him  carefully  explain  his  meaning  with 
precision  of  both  word  and  thought,  and  make  every  ambiguity 
clear  and  plain  with  a  certain  touch  of  unpedantic  care.  Like- 
wise, where  there  is  occasion,  let  him  know  how  to  speak  with 
dignity  and  force,  to  arouse  those  emotions  that  are  part  of  our 
nature,  and  to  kindle  them  or  to  move  them  according  to  the 
need.  Sometimes,  with  that  simple  candour  that  makes  it  seem 
as  if  nature  herself  were  speaking,  let  him  know  how  to  soften 
them,  and  as  it  were  to  intoxicate  them  with  sweetness,  and  so 
easily  withal  that  the  listener  shall  think  that  with  very  little 
effort  he  too  could  reach  that  excellence,  and  when  he  tries, 
shall  find  himself  very  far  behind. 

"  In  such  fashion  would  I  have  our  Courtier  speak  and  write; 
and  not  only  choose  rich  and  elegant  words  from  every  part  of 
Italy,  but  I  should  even  praise  him  for  sometimes  using  some 
of  those  French  and  Spanish  terms  that  are  already  accepted  by 
our  custom.**  Thus  it  would  not  displease  me  if  on  occasion  he 
were  to  say,  pritnor  (excellence);  or  acertare  (to  succeed), 
aventurare  (to  run  a  risk  successfully);  or  ripassare  una  persona 
con  ragionamento ,  meaning  to  sound  a  person  and  to  talk  with 
him  in  order  to  gain  perfect  knowledge  of  him;  or  un  cavalier 
sensa  riniproccio  (a  cavalier  without  reproach),  attilafo  (elegant), 
creato  d'un  principe  (a  prince's  creature),  and  other  like  terms, 
provided  he  might  hope  to  be  understood.* 

"  Sometimes  I  would  have  him  use  a  few  words  in  a  sense 



other  than  that  proper  to  them,  to  transpose  them  aptly,  and  as 
it  were  to  graft  them,  like  the  branch  of  a  tree,  upon  a  more 
appropriate  trunk, — so  as  to  make  them  more  attractive  and 
beautiful,  and  as  it  were  to  bring  things  within  the  range  of  our 
vision,  and  within  hand-touch  as  we  say,  to  the  delight  of  him 
who  hears  or  reads.  Nor  would  I  have  him  scruple  to  form 
new  words  and  in  new  figures  of  speech,  deriving  them  taste- 
fully from  the  Latins,  as  of  old  the  Latins  derived  them  from 
the  Greeks. 

35-—"  Now  if  among  the  lettered  men  of  good  talent  and 
judgment  who  to-day  are  found  in  our  midst,  there  were  a 
few  who  would  take  care  to  write  in  this  language  (as  I  have 
described)  things  worthy  of  being  read,  we  should  soon  see  it 
studied  and  abounding  in  beautiful  terms  and  figures,  and  capa- 
ble of  being  written  in  as  well  as  is  any  other  whatsoever;  and 
if  it  were  not  pure  old  Tuscan,  it  would  be  Italian, — universal, 
copious  and  varied,  and  in  a  way  like  a  delightful  garden  full  of 
various  flowers  and  fruits.  Nor  would  this  be  a  novel  thing;  for 
from  the  four  dialects  that  the  Greek  writers  had  in  use,""  they 
culled  words,  forms  and  figures  from  each  as  they  saw  fit,  and 
thence  they  brought  forth  another  dialect  which  was  called 
'common,'  and  later  they  called  all  five  by  the  single  name 
Greek.  And  although  the  Attic  dialect  was  more  elegant,  pure 
and  copious  than  the  others,  good  writers  who  were  not  Athe- 
nians by  birth  did  not  so  affect  it  as  to  be  unrecognizable  by  their 
style  and  by  the  perfume  (as  it  were)  and  essence  of  their  native 
speech.  Nor  yet  were  they  disprized  for  this;  on  the  contrary 
those  who  tried  to  seem  too  Athenian,  were  censured  for  it. 
Among  the  Latin  writers  too,  many  non-Romans  were  highly 
esteemed  in  their  day,  although  there  was  not  found  in 
them  that  typical  purity  of  the  Roman  tongue  which  men  of 
other  race  can  rarely  acquire.  Thus  Titus  Livius  was  not  at 
all  discarded,  although  someone  professed  to  have  detected  a 
Paduan  flavour  in  him;"  nor  was  Virgil,  albeit  reproached  with 
not  speaking  Roman.  Moreover,  as  you  know,  many  writers  of 
barbarian  race  were  read  and  esteemed  at  Rome. 

"  We,  on  the  contrary,  much  more  strict  than  the  ancients, 
needlessly  impose  certain  new  laws  upon  ourselves,  and  with  the 



beaten  highways  before  our  eyes,  we  seek  to  go  along  the  by- 
paths; for  in  our  own  language, — of  which,  as  of  all  others,  the 
office  is  to  express  thought  well  and  clearly, — we  delight  our- 
selves with  obscurity;  and  calling  it  the  vulgar  tongue,  we  try  in 
speaking  it  to  use  words  that  are  understood  neither  by  the  vul- 
gar nor  yet  by  the  gentle  and  lettered,  and  are  no  longer  used  in 
any  place;  unmindful  that  all  the  good  writers  of  old  disapproved 
words  discarded  by  custom.  Which  to  my  thinking,  you  do  not 
rightly  understand;  since  you  say  that  if  some  fault  of  speech  is 
widely  prevalent  among  the  ignorant,  it  ought  not  for  that  reason 
to  be  called  custom  or  accepted  as  a  rule  of  speech,  and  from 
what  I  have  heard  you  sometimes  say,  you  would  have  us  use 
Campidoglio  in  place  of  Capitolio ;  Girolamo  for  Hieronymo;  aldace 
for  atidace;  and  padrone  for  patrone,  and  other  words  corrupt 
and  spoiled  like  these;  because  they  are  found  written  thus  by 
some  ignorant  old  Tuscan,  and  because  the  Tuscan  country  folk 
speak  thus  to-day .'' 

"  Hence  I  believe  that  good  custom  in  speech  springs  from  men 
who  have  talent  and  who  have  gained  good  judgment  from  study 
and  experience,  and  who  therefore  agree  and  consent  to  accept 
the  words  that  to  them  seem  good,  which  are  recognized  by  a 
certain  innate  judgment  and  not  by  any  art  or  rule.  Do  you  not 
know^  that  figures  of  speech,  which  give  so  much  grace  and 
splendour  to  an  oration,  are  all  infringements  of  grammatical 
rules,  yet  accepted  and  confirmed  by  usage,  because,  although 
unable  to  offer  other  reason,  they  give  pleasure  and  seem  to  carry 
suavity  and  sweetness  to  our  very  sense  of  hearing  ?  And  this  I 
believe  to  be  good  custom, — of  which  the  Romans,  the  Neapoli- 
tans, the  Lombards  and  the  rest,  may  be  as  capable  as  the 
Tuscans  are. 

36.— "It  is  very  true  that  in  every  language  certain  things 
are  always  good,  such  as  ease,  good  order,  richness,  beautiful 
sentences,  harmonious  periods;  and  on  the  contrary  affectation 
and  other  things  opposed  to  these,  are  bad.  But  among  words 
there  are  some  that  remain  good  for  a  time,  then  grow  antiquated 
and  wholly  lose  their  grace;  others  gain  strength  and  come  to 
be  esteemed.  For  as  the  seasons  of  the  year  despoil  the  earth 
of  flowers  and  fruits  and  then  clothe  it  anew  with  others,  so  time 



causes  those  primal  words  to  decay,  and  use  makes  others  to  be 
born  again  and  gives  them  grace  and  dignity,  until  they  in  their 
turn  meet  their  death,  consumed  by  the  envious  gnawing  of  time; 
for  in  the  end  both  we  and  all  our  concerns  are  mortal.  Con- 
sider that  we  no  longer  have  any  knowledge  of  the  Oscan 
tongue/'  The  Provencal,  although  it  may  be  said  to  have  been 
but  lately  celebrated  by  noble  writers,  is  not  now  understood  by 
the  inhabitants  of  that  country.  Hence  I  think,  as  my  lord 
Magnifico  has  well  said,  that  if  Petrarch  and  Boccaccio  were 
alive  at  this  time,  they  would  not  use  many  words  that  we  find  in 
their  writings:  therefore  it  does  not  seem  to  me  well  for  us  to 
copy  these  words.  I  applaud  very  highly  those  who  know  how 
to  imitate  that  which  ought  to  be  imitated,  but  I  do  not  at  all 
believe  that  it  is  impossible  to  write  well  without  imitating, — and 
particularly  in  this  language  of  ours,  wherein  we  may  be  aided 
by  usage:  which  I  should  not  dare  say  of  Latin." 

37-— The  messer  Federico  said: 

"  Why  would  you  have  usage  more  esteemed  in  the  vernacular 
than  in  Latin  ?  " 

"  Nay,"  replied  the  Count,  "I  esteem  usage  as  mistress  of  both 
the  one  and  the  other.  But  since  those  men  to  whom  the  Latin 
tongue  was  as  natural  as  the  vernacular  now  is  to  us,  are  no 
longer  on  earth,  we  must  needs  learn  from  their  writings  that 
which  they  learned  from  usage.  Nor  does  ancient  speech  mean 
anything  more  than  ancient  usage  of  speech,  and  it  would  be  a 
silly  business  to  like  ancient  speech  for  no  other  reason  than  a 
wish  to  speak  as  men  used  to  speak  rather  than  as  they  now 

"  Then,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  the  ancients  did  not  imi- 
tate ?  " 

"  I  believe,"  said  the  Count,  "  that  many  of  them  did,  but  not  in 
everything.  And  if  Virgil  had  imitated  Hesiod  in  everything,  he 
would  not  have  surpassed  his  master;  nor  Cicero,  Crassus;  nor 
Ennius,  his  predecessors.  You  know  Homer  is  so  ancient  that 
many  believe  he  is  the  first  heroic  poet  in  time  as  he  is  also 
in  excellence  of  diction:  and  whom  would  you  think  he  imi- 
tated ?  " 

"  Some  other  poet,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  more  ancient 



than  he,  of  whom  we  have  no  knowledge  because  of  excessive 

"  Then  whom,"  said  the  Count,  "  would  you  say  Petrarch  and 
Boccaccio  imitated,  who  were  on  earth  only  three  days  since,  one 
may  say  ?  " 

"  I  know  not,"  replied  messer  Federico;  "  but  we  may  believe 
that  even  their  minds  were  directed  to  imitation,  although  we  do 
not  know  of  whom." 

The  Count  replied: 

"  "We  may  believe  that  they  who  were  imitated,  surpassed 
those  who  imitated  them;  and  if  they  were  admirable,  it  would 
be  too  great  a  marvel  that  their  name  and  fame  should  be  so 
soon  extinguished.  But  I  believe  that  their  real  master  was 
aptitude  and  their  own  native  judgment;  and  at  this  there  is  no 
one  who  ought  to  wonder,  since  nearly  always  the  summit  of 
every  excellence  may  be  approached  by  diverse  roads.  Nor  is 
there  anything  that  has  not  in  it  many  things  of  the  same  sort 
which  are  dissimilar  and  yet  intrinsically  deserving  of  equal 

"  Consider  music,  the  harmonies  of  which  are  now  grave  and 
slow,  now  very  fast  and  of  novel  moods  and  means;  yet  all  give 
pleasure,  albeit  for  different  reasons:  as  is  seen  in  Bidon's'' man- 
ner of  singing,  which  is  so  skilful,  ready,  vehement,  fervid,  and 
of  such  varied  melodies,  that  the  listener's  spirits  are  moved  and 
inflamed,  and  thus  entranced  seem  to  be  lifted  up  to  heaven. 
Nor  does  our  friend  Marchetto  Cara'^move  us  less  by  his  sing- 
ing, but  with  a  gentler  harmony;  because  he  softens  and  pene- 
trates our  souls  by  placid  means  and  full  of  plaintive  sweetness, 
gently  stirring  them  to  sweet  emotion. 

"  Again,  various  things  give  equal  pleasure  to  our  eyes,  so  that 
we  can  with  difiiculty  decide  which  are  more  pleasing  to  them. 
You  know  that  in  painting  Leonardo  da  Vinci,*  Mantegna,'' 
Raphael,*  Michelangelo,*  Giorgio  da  Castelfranco,™  are  very  ex- 
cellent, yet  they  are  all  unlike  in  their  work;  so  that  no  one  of 
them  seems  to  lack  anything  in  his  own  manner,  since  each  is 
known  as  most  perfect  in  his  style. 

"  It  is  the  same  with  many  Greek  and  Latin  poets,  who,  al- 
though different  in  their  writing,  are  equal  in  their  fame.     The 



orators,  too,  have  always  had  so  much  diversity  among  them- 
selves, that  almost  every  age  has  produced  and  prized  a  type  of 
orator  peculiar  to  its  own  time;  and  these  have  been  different 
not  only  from  their  predecessors  and  successors,  but  from  one 
another:  as  it  is  written  of  Isocrates,  Lysias,  ^schines,""  and 
many  others  among  the  Greeks, —  all  excellent,  yet  each  resem- 
bling no  one  but  himself.  So,  among  the  Latins,  Carbo,  Laelius, 
Scipio  Africanus,  Galba,  Sulpicius,  Cotta,  Gracchus,  Marcus 
Antonius,  Crassus,""  and  so  many  others  that  it  would  be  tedious 
to  name  them, —  all  good  and  very  different  one  from  another; 
so  that  if  a  man  were  able  to  consider  all  the  orators  that  have 
been  in  the  world,  he  would  find  as  many  kinds  of  oratory  as  of 
orators.  I  think  I  remember  too  that  Cicero  in  a  certain  place"" 
makes  Marcus  Antonius  say  to  Sulpicius  that  there  are  many 
who  imitate  no  man  and  yet  arrive  at  the  highest  pitch  of  excel- 
lence; and  he  speaks  of  certain  ones  who  had  introduced  a  new 
form  and  figure  of  speech,  beautiful  but  not  usual  among  the 
orators  of  that  time,  wherein  they  imitated  no  one  but  them- 
selves. For  that  reason  he  affirms  also  that  masters  ought 
to  consider  the  pupils'  nature,  and  taking  this  as  guide  ought  to 
direct  and  aid  them  to  the  path  towards  which  their  aptitude 
and  natural  disposition  incline  them.  Hence  I  believe,  dear 
messer  Federico,  that  if  a  man  has  no  innate  affinity  for  any 
particular  author,  it  is  not  well  to  force  him  to  imitate,  because 
the  vigour™  of  his  faculty  languishes  and  is  impeded  when  turned 
from  the  channel  in  which  it  would  have  made  progress  had  that 
channel  not  been  barred. 

"  Therefore  I  do  not  see  how  it  can  be  well,  instead  of  enrich- 
ing this  language  of  ours  and  giving  it  spirit  and  grandeur  and 
light,  to  make  it  poor,  thin,  humble  and  obscure,  and  to  try  to 
restrict  it  in  such  narrow  bounds  that  everyone  shall  be  forced 
to  imitate  Petrarch  and  Boccaccio  alone;  and  how,  in  respect  of 
language,  we  ought  not  also  to  give  credence  to  Poliziano,'"'  to 
Lorenzo  de'  Medici,™  to  Francesco  Diacceto,'"  and  to  some  others 
who  are  also  Tuscans  and  perhaps  of  no  less  learning  and  judg- 
ment than  were  Petrarch  and  Boccaccio.  And  great  pity  would 
it  be  indeed  to  set  a  limit,  and  not  to  surpass  that  which  almost 
the  earliest  writers  achieved,  and  to  deny  that  so  many  men  of 



such  noble  genius  can  ever  find  more  than  one  beautiful  form 
of  expression  in  this  language  which  is  proper  and  natural  to 
them.  But  to-day  there  are  certain  scrupulous  souls,  who  so 
frighten  the  listener  with  the  cult  and  ineffable  mysteries  of  this 
Tuscan  tongue  of  theirs,  as  to  put  even  many  a  noble  and 
learned  man  in  such  fear,  that  he  dare  not  open  his  mouth  and 
confesses  that  he  does  not  know  how  to  speak  the  very  lan- 
guage which  he  learned  in  swaddling  clothes  from  his  nurse. 

"  However  I  think  we  have  said  only  too  much  of  this;  so  now 
let  us  go  on  with  our  discussion  about  the  Courtier." 

38 Then  messer  Federico  replied: 

"  I  should  first  like  to  say  one  thing  more,  which  is  that  I  do 
not  deny  men's  opinions  and  aptitudes  to  be  different  among 
themselves.  Nor  do  I  believe  that  it  would  be  well  for  a  natu- 
rally vehement  and  excitable  man  to  set  himself  to  write  of  placid 
themes,  or  for  another,  being  severe  and  grave,  to  write  jests; 
for  in  this  matter  it  seems  to  me  reasonable  that  everyone  should 
adapt  himself  to  his  own  proper  instinct.  And  I  think  Cicero 
was  speaking  of  this  when  he  said  that  masters  ought  to  have 
regard  to  their  pupils'  nature,  in  order  not  to  act  like  bad  hus- 
bandmen, who  will  sometimes  sow  grain  in  land  that  is  fruitful 
only  for  the  vine. 

"  Still  I  cannot  get  it  into  my  head  why,  in  the  case  of  a  par- 
ticular language, — which  is  not  proper  to  all  men  equally,  like 
speech  and  thought  and  many  other  functions,  but  an  invention 
of  limited  use, — it  is  not  more  rational  to  imitate  those  who  speak 
better,  than  to  speak  at  random;  or  why,  just  as  in  Latin  we 
ought  to  try  to  approach  the  language  of  Virgil  and  Cicero  rather 
than  that  of  Silius  or  Cornelius  Tacitus,"*  it  is  not  better  in  the 
vernacular  also  to  imitate  the  language  of  Petrarch  and  Boccac- 
cio than  any  other's;  yet  to  express  our  thoughts  in  it  well,  and 
thus  to  give  heed  to  our  own  natural  instinct,  as  Cicero  teaches. 
And  in  this  way  it  will  be  found  that  the  difference  which  you  say 
there  is  among  good  orators,  consists  in  sense  and  not  in  language." 

Then  the  Count  said: 

"  I  fear  we  shall  be  entering  on  a  wide  sea,  and  shall  be  leav- 
ing our  first  subject  of  the  Courtier.  However,  I  ask  you  in  what 
consists  the  excellence  of  this  language?" 



Messer  Federico  replied: 

"In  preserving  strictly  its  proprieties,  in  giving  it  that  sense, 
and  in  using  that  style  and  those  rhythms,  which  have  been  used 
by  all  who  have  written  well." 

"I  should  like  to  know,"  said  the  Count,  "whether  this  style 
and  these  rhythms  of  which  you  speak,  arise  from  the  thought  or  r 
from  the  words."  o 

"From  the  words,"  replied  messer  Federico. 

"  Then,"  said  the  Count,"  do  not  the  words  of  Silius  and  Cornelius 
Tacitus  seem  to  you  the  same  that  Virgil  and  Cicero  use?  and 
employed  in  the  same  sense?" 

"Certainly  they  are  the  same,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "but 
some  of  them  wrongly  applied  and  turned  awry." 

The  Count  replied: 

"And  if  from  a  book  of  Cornelius  and  from  one  of  Silius,  all 
those  words  were  removed  that  are  used  in  a  sense  different  from 
that  of  Virgil  and  Cicero,  which  would  be  very  few, — would  you 
not  then  say  that  Cornelius  was  the  equal  of  Cicero  in  language, 
and  Silius  of  Virgil,  and  that  it  would  be  well  to  imitate  their 
manner  of  speech?" 

39 — Then  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"Methinks  this  debate  of  yours  is  far  too  long  and  tedious; 
therefore  it  were  well  to  postpone  it  to  another  time." 

Messer  Federico  was  about  to  reply  none  the  less,  but  my  lady 
Emilia  always  interrupted  him.    At  last  the  Count  said: 

"Many  men  like  to  pass  judgment  upon  style  and  to  talk  about 
rhythms  and  imitation;  but  they  cannot  make  it  at  all  clear  to  me 
what  manner  of  thing  style  or  rhythm  is,  or  in  what  imitation 
consists,  or  why  things  taken  from  Homer  or  from  someone  else 
are  so  becoming  in  Virgil  that  they  seem  illumined  rather  than 
imitated.  Perhaps  this  is  because  I  am  not  capable  of  under- 
standing them;  but  since  a  good  sign  that  a  man  knows  a  thing, 
is  his  ability  to  teach  it,  I  suspect  that  they  too  understand  it  but 
little,  and  that  they  praise  both  Virgil  and  Cicero  because  they 
hear  such  praise  from  many,  not  because  they  perceive  the  differ- 
ence that  exists  between  these  two  and  others:  for  in  truth  it  does 
not  consist  in  preserving  two  or  three  or  ten  words  used  in  a  way 
different  from  the  others. 



"In  Sallust,  Caesar,  Varro'"'  and  the  other  good  writers,  some 
terms  are  found  used  differently  from  the  way  Cicero  uses  them; 
and  yet  both  ways  are  proper,  for  the  excellence  and  force  of  a 
language  lie  in  no  such  trifling  matter:  as  Demosthenes  well  said 
to  iEschines,  who  tauntingly  asked  him  whether  certain  words 
that  he  had  used  (although  not  Attic)  were  prodigies  or  portents; 
and  Demosthenes  laughed  and  replied  that  the  fortunes  of  Greece 
did  not  hang  on  such  a  trifle.  So  I  too  should  care  little  if  I  were 
reproved  by  a  Tuscan  for  having  said  satisfatto  rather  than  sodis- 
fatto,  honorevole  for  Jiorrevole,  causa  for  cagione,  populo  for  popolo, 
and  the  like." 

Then  messer  Federico  rose  to  his  feet  and  said: 

"  Hear  me  these  few  words,  I  pray." 

"The  pain  of  my  displeasure,"  replied  my  lady  Emilia,  laughing, 
"  be  upon  him  who  speaks  more  of  this  matter  now,  for  I  wish  to 
postpone  it  to  another  evening.  But  do  you.  Count,  go  on  with 
the  discussion  about  the  Courtier, — and  show  us  what  a  fine 
memory  you  have,  which  I  think  you  will  do  in  no  small  measure, 
if  you  are  able  to  take  up  the  discussion  where  you  left  it." 

40 — <'My  Lady,"  replied  the  Count,  "I  fear  the  thread  is  broken; 
yet  if  I  am  not  wrong,  methinks  we  were  saying  that  the  pest  of 
affectation  imparts  extreme  ungracefulness  to  everything,  while 
on  the  other  hand  simplicity  and  nonchalance  produce  the  height 
of  grace:  in  praise  of  which,  and  in  blame  of  affectation,  we  might 
cite  many  other  arguments;  but  of  these  I  wish  to  add  only  one, 
and  no  more.  Women  are  always  very  eager  to  be — and  when 
they  cannot  be,  at  least  to  seem — beautiful.  So  where  nature  is 
somewhat  at  fault  in  this  regard,  they  try  to  piece  it  out  by  arti- 
fice; whence  arise  that  painting  of  the  face  with  so  much  care  and 
sometimes  pains,  that  plucking  of  the  eyebrows  and  forehead, 
and  the  use  of  all  those  devices  and  the  endurance  of  that  trouble, 
which  you  ladies  think  to  keep  very  secret  from  men,  but  which 
are  all  well  known." 

Here  madonna  Costanza  Fregosa  laughed  and  said: 

"  It  would  be  far  more  courteous  for  you  to  keep  to  your  dis- 
cussion, and  tell  us  of  what  grace  is  born,  and  talk  about  Cour- 
tiership, — than  to  try  to  unveil  the  weaknesses  of  women,  which 
are  not  to  the  purpose." 



"Nay,  much  to  the  purpose,"  replied  the  Count:  "for  these 
weaknesses  of  yours  I  am  speaking  of,  deprive  you  of  grace 
because  they  spring  from  nothing  but  affectation,  wherein  you 
openly  make  known  to  everyone  your  over-eagerness  to  be 

"  Do  you  not  see  how  much  more  grace  a  lady  has  who  paints 
(if  at  all)  so  sparingly  and  so  little,  that  whoever  sees  her  is  in 
doubt  whether  she  be  painted  or  not;  than  another  lady  so  plas- 
tered that  she  seems  to  have  put  a  mask  upon  her  face  and  dares 
not  laugh  for  fear  of  cracking  it,  nor  ever  changes  colour  but 
when  she  dresses  in  the  morning,  and  then  stands  motionless  all 
the  rest  of  the  day  like  a  wooden  image,  showing  herself  only 
by  candle-light,  like  wily  merchants  who  display  their  cloths  in  a 
dark  place?  Again,  how  much  more  pleasing  than  all  others  is 
one  (I  mean  not  ill-favoured)  who  is  plainly  seen  to  have  nothing 
on  her  face,  although  it  be  neither  very  white  nor  very  red,  but 
by  nature  a  little  pale  and  sometimes  tinged  with  an  honest  flush 
from  shame  or  other  accident, — with  hair  artlessly  unadorned  and 
hardly  confined,  her  gestures  simple  and  free,  without  showing 
care  or  wish  to  be  beautiful!  This  is  that  nonchalant  simplicity 
most  pleasing  to  the  eyes  and  minds  of  men,  who  are  ever  fearful 
of  being  deceived  by  art.  v^^^v^^ 

"  Beautiful  teeth  are  very  charming  in  a  woman,  for  since  they 
are  not  so  much  in  view  as  the  face  is,  but  lie  hidden  most  of  the 
time,  we  may  believe  that  less  care  is  taken  to  make  them  beau- 
tiful than  with  the  face.  Yet  if  one  were  to  laugh  without  cause 
and  solely  to  display  the  teeth,  he  would  betray  his  art,  and  how- 
ever beautiful  they  were,  would  seem  most  ungraceful  to  all,  like 
Catullus's  Egnatius.""  It  is  the  same  with  the  hands;  which,  if 
they  are  delicate  and  beautiful,  and  occasionally  left  bare  when 
there  is  need  to  use  them,  and  not  in  order  to  display  their  beauty, 
they  leave  a  very  great  desire  to  see  more  of  them,  and  especially 
if  covered  with  gloves  again;  for  whoever  covers  them  seems  to 
have  little  care  or  thought  whether  they  be  seen  or  not,  and 
to  have  them  thus  beautiful  more  by  nature  than  by  any  effort 
or  pains. 

"  Have  you  ever  noticed  when  a  woman,  in  passing  through 
the  street  to  church  or  elsewhere,  thoughtlessly  happens  (either  in 



frolic  or  from  other  cause)  to  lift  her  dress  high  enough  to  show 
the  foot  and  often  a  little  of  the  leg?  Does  this  not  seem  to  you 
full  of  grace,  when  you  see  her  tricked  out  with  a  touch  of  femi- 
nine daintiness  in  velvet  shoes  and  neat  stockings?  I  for  one 
delight  in  it  and  believe  you  all  do,  for  everyone  is  persuaded 
that  elegance,  in  matters  thus  hidden  and  rarely  seen,  is  natural 
and  instinctive  to  the  lady  rather  than  forced,  and  that  she  does 
not  think  to  win  any  praise  by  it. 

41 — "In  this  way  we  avoid  and  hide  affectation,  and  you  can 
now  see  how  opposed  and  destructive  it  is  to  grace  in  every  office 
as  well  of  the  body  as  the  mind:  whereof  we  have  thus  far  spoken 
little,  and  yet  we  must  not  omit  it,  for  since  the  mind  is  of  far 
more  worth  than  the  body,  it  deserves  to  be  more  cultivated  and 
adorned.  And  as  to  what  ought  to  be  done  in  the  case  of  our 
Courtier,  we  will  lay  aside  the  precepts  of  the  many  sage  philoso- 
phers who  write  of  this  matter  and  define  the  properties  of  the 
mind  and  discuss  so  subtly  about  their  rank, — and  keeping  to  our 
subject,  we  will  in  a  few  words  declare  it  to  be  enough  that  he  be 
(as  we  say)  an  honest  and  upright  man;  for  in  this  are  included 
prudence,  goodness,  strength  and  temperance  of  mind,  and  all 
the  other  qualities  that  are  proper  to  a  name  so  honoured.  And 
I  esteem  him  alone  to  be  a  true  moral  philosopher,  who  wishes  to 
be  good;  and  in  this  regard  he  needs  few  other  precepts  than 
that  wish.  And  therefore  Socrates  was  right  in  saying  that  he 
thought  his  teachings  bore  good  fruit  indeed  whenever  they 
incited  anyone  to  understand  and  teach  virtue:  for  they  who 
have  reached  the  goal  of  desiring  nothing  more  ardently  than  to 
be  good,  easily  acquire  knowledge  of  everything  needful  there- 
for; so  we  will  discuss  this  no  further. 

4a.—"  Yet  besides  goodness,  I  think  that  letters  are  for  every- 
one the  true  and  principal  ornament  of  the  mind:  although  the 
French  recognize  only  the  nobility  of  arms  and  esteem  all  else 
as  naught.  Thus  they  not  only  fail  to  prize  but  they  abhor 
letters,  and  hold  all  men  of  letters  most  base,  and  think  they 
speak  very  basely  of  any  man  when  they  call  him  a  clerk." 

Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"  You  say  truly,  that  this  fault  has  long  been  prevalent  among 
the  French.     But  if  kind  fate  decrees  that  Monseigneur  d'An.-_ 



gouleme'"  shall  succeed  to  the  crown,  as  is  hoped,  I  think  that 
just  as  the  glory  of  arms  flourishes  and  shines  in  France,  so  too 
ought  that  of  letters  to  flourish  in  highest  state;  for  it  is  not  long 
since  I,  being  at  the  court,  saw  this  prince,  and  it  seemed  to  me 
that  besides  the  grace  of  his  person  and  the  beauty  of  his  face, 
he  had  in  his  aspect  such  loftiness,  joined  however  with  a  cer- 
tain gracious  humanity,  that  the  realm  of  France  must  always 
seem  small  for  him.  I  heard  afterwards  from  many  gentlemen, 
both  French  and  Italian,  of  his  very  noble  manner  of  life,  of  his 
loftiness  of  mind,  of  his  valour  and  liberality.  And  among  other 
things  I  was  told  that  he  loved  and  esteemed  letters  especially 
and  held  all  men  of  letters  in  greatest  honour;  and  he  con- 
demned the  French  themselves  for  being  so  hostile  to  this  pro- 
fession, especially  as  they  have  within  their  borders  such  a 
noble  school  as  that  of  Paris,  frequented  by  all  the  world.'"" 

Then  the  Count  said: 

"  It  is  a  great  marvel  that  in  such  tender  youth,  solely  by 
natural  instinct  and  against  the  usage  of  his  country,  he  has  of 
himself  chosen  so  worthy  a  path.  And  as  subjects  always  copy 
the  customs  of  their  superiors,  it  may  be  that,  as  you  say,  the 
French  will  yet  come  to  esteem  letters  at  their  true  worth  : 
whereto  they  may  easily  be  persuaded,  if  they  will  but  listen  to 
reason;  since  nothing  is  by  nature  more  desirable  for  men,  or 
more  proper  to  them,  than  knowledge,  which  it  is  great  folly  to 
say  or  believe  is  not  always  a  good  thing. 

43 — "  And  if  I  were  speaking  with  them,  or  with  others  who 
had  an  opinion  contrary  to  mine,  I  should  strive  to  show  them 
how  useful  and  necessary  letters  are  to  our  life  and  dignity, 
having  indeed  been  granted  by  God  to  men  as  a  crowning  gift. 
Nor  should  I  lack  instances  of  many  excellent  commanders  of 
antiquity,  who  all  added  the  ornament  of  letters  to  the  valour  of 
their  arms. 

"  Thus  you  know  Alexander  held  Homer  in  such  veneration 
that  he  always  kept  the  Iliad  by  his  bedside;  and  he  devoted 
the  greatest  attention  not  only  to  these  studies  but  to  philo- 
sophical speculation  under  Aristotle's  guidance.  Alcibiades  en- 
larged his  natural  aptitudes  and  made  them  greater  by  means 
of  letters  and  the  teachings  of  Socrates.     The  care  that  Caesar 



gave  to  study  is  also  attested  by  the  surviving  works  that  he 
divinely  wrote.  It  is  said  that  Scipio  Africanus  always  kept  in 
his  hand  the  works  of  Xenophon,  wherein  the  perfect  king  is 
portrayed  under  the  name  of  Cyrus.  I  could  tell  you  of  Lucul- 
lus,  Sulla,  Pompey,  Brutus,'"  and  many  other  Romans  and 
Greeks;  but  I  will  merely  remind  you  that  Hannibal,  the  illustri- 
ous commander, — although  fierce  by  nature  and  a  stranger  to  all 
humanity,  faithless  and  a  despiser  of  both  men  and  gods, — yet 
had  knowledge  of  letters  and  was  conversant  with  the  Greek 
language;  and  if  I  mistake  not,  I  once  read  that  he  even  left  a 
book  composed  by  him  in  Greek. 

"  However  it  is  superfluous  to  tell  you  this,  for  I  well  know 
that  you  all  see  how  wrong  the  French  are  in  thinking  that  let- 
ters are  injurious  to  arms.  You  know  that  glory  is  the  true 
stimulus  to  great  and  hazardous  deeds  of  war,  and  whoso  is 
moved  thereto  by  gain  or  other  motive,  besides  doing  nothing 
good,  deserves  not  to  be  called  a  gentleman,  but  a  base  traf- 
ficker. And  true  glory  is  that  which  is  preserved  in  the  sacred 
treasure-house  of  letters,  as  everyone  may  understand  except 
those  unfortunates  who  have  never  enjoyed  them. 

"  What  soul  is  there  so  abject,  timid  and  humble,  that  when 
he  reads  of  the  deeds  of  Caesar,  Alexander,  Scipio,  Hannibal, 
and  many  others,  is  not  inflamed  by  an  ardent  desire  to  be  like 
them,  and  does  not  make  small  account  of  this  frail  two  days' 
life,  in  order  to  win  the  almost  eternal  life  of  fame,  which  in 
spite  of  death  makes  him  live  in  far  greater  glory  than  before  ? 
But  he  who  does  not  feel  the  delight  of  letters,  cannot  either 
know  how  great  is  the  glory  they  so  long  preserve,  and  mea- 
sures it  by  the  life  of  one  man  or  two,  because  his  memory  runs 
no  further.  Hence  he  cannot  esteem  this  short-lived  glory  so 
much  as  he  would  that  almost  eternal  glory  if  knowledge  of  it 
were  unhappily  not  denied  him,  and  as  he  does  not  esteem  it  so 
much,  we  may  reasonably  believe  that  he  will  not  run  such 
danger  to  pursue  it  as  one  who  knew  it  would. 

"  I  should  be  far  from  willing  to  have  an  antagonist  cite  in- 
stances to  the  contrary  in  refutation  of  my  view,  and  urge  upon 
me  that  with  all  their  knowledge  of  letters  the  Italians  have  for 
some  time  since  shown  little  martial  valour, —  which  is  alas  only* 



too  true."*  But  it  very  certainly  might  be  said  that  the  fault  of  a 
few  has  brought  not  only  grievous  harm  but  eternal  obloquy 
upon  all  the  rest;  and  from  them  was  derived  the  true  cause  of 
our  ruin  and  of  the  decadence  if  not  the  death  of  valour  in  our 
souls:  yet  it  would  be  far  more  shameful  in  us  to  publish  it,  than 
for  the  French  to  be  ignorant  of  letters.  Therefore  it  is  better 
to  pass  over  in  silence  that  which  cannot  be  recalled  without 
pain:  and  avoiding  this  subject  (upon  which  I  entered  against 
my  will)  to  return  to  our  Courtier. 

44-—"  I  would  have  him  more  than  passably  accomplished  in 
letters,  at  least  in  those  studies  that  are  called  the  humanities, 
and  conversant  not  only  with  the  Latin  language  but  with  the 
Greek,  for  the  sake  of  the  many  different  things  that  have  been 
admirably  written  therein.'"  Let  him  be  well  versed  in  the 
poets,  and  not  less  in  the  orators  and  historians,  and  also  profi- 
cient in  writing  verse  and  prose,  especially  in  this  vulgar  tongue  of 
ours;'"  for  besides  the  enjoyment  he  will  find  in  it,  he  will  by 
this  means  never  lack  agreeable  entertainment  with  ladies,'" 
who  are  usually  fond  of  such  things.  And  if  other  occupations 
or  want  of  study  prevent  his  reaching  such  perfection  as  to  ren- 
der his  writings  worthy  of  great  praise,  let  him  be  careful  to 
suppress  them  so  that  others  may  not  laugh  at  him,  and  let  him 
show  them  only  to  a  friend  whom  he  can  trust:  because  they 
will  at  least  be  of  this  service  to  him,  that  the  exercise  will 
enable  him  to  judge  the  work  of  others.  For  it  very  rarely 
happens  that  a  man  who  is  not  accustomed  to  write,  however 
learned  he  may  be,  can  ever  quite  appreciate  the  toil  and  indus- 
try of  writers,  or  taste  the  sweetness  and  excellence  of  style,  and 
those  latent  niceties  that  are  often  found  in  the  ancients. 

"  Moreover  these  studies  will  also  make  him  fluent,  and  as 
Aristippus  said  to  the  tyrant,  confident  and  assured  in  speaking 
with  everyone.'"  Hence  I  would  have  our  Courtier  keep  one 
precept  fixed  in  mind;  which  is  that  in  this  and  everything  else 
he  should  be  always  on  his  guard,  and  diffident  rather  than  for- 
ward, and  that  he  should  keep  from  falsely  persuading  himself 
that  he  knows  that  which  he  does  not  know.  For  by  nature  we 
all  are  fonder  of  praise  than  we  ought  to  be,  and  our  ears  love 
the  melody  of  words  that  praise  us  more  than  any  other  sweet 



song  or  sound;  and  thus,  like  sirens'  voices,  they  are  often  the 
cause  of  shipwreck  to  him  who  does  not  close  his  ears  to  such 
deceptive  harmony.  Among  the  ancient  sages  this  danger  was 
recognized,  and  books  were  written  showing  in  what  way  the 
true  friend  may  be  distinguished  from  the  flatterer.'"  But  what 
does  this  avail,  if  there  be  many,  nay  a  host,  of  those  who  clearly 
perceive  that  they  are  flattered,  yet  love  him  who  flatters  them, 
and  hold  him  in  hatred  who  tells  them  the  truth?  And  often 
when  they  find  him  who  praises  them  too  sparing  in  his  words, 
they  even  help  him  and  say  such  things  of  themselves,  that  the 
flatterer  is  put  to  shame,  most  impudent  though  he  be. 

"  Let  us  leave  these  blind  ones  to  their  errour,  and  have  our 
Courtier  of  such  good  judgment  that  he  will  not  take  black  for 
white,  or  have  more  self-confidence  than  he  clearly  knows  to  be 
well  founded;  and  especially  in  those  peculiarities  which  (if  you 
remember)  messer  Cesare  in  his  game  said  we  had  often  used 
as  an  instrument  to  bring  men's  folly  to  light.  On  the  contrary, 
even  if  he  well  knows  the  praises  bestowed  upon  him  to  be  true, 
let  him  not  err  by  accepting  them  too  openly  or  confirming  them 
without  some  protest;  but  rather  let  him  as  it  were  disclaim 
them  modestly,  always  showing  and  really  esteeming  arms  as 
his  chief  profession,  and  all  other  good  accomplishments  as  an 
ornament  thereto.  And  particularly  among  soldiers  let  him  not 
act  like  those  who  insist  on  seeming  soldiers  in  learning,  and 
learned  men  among  soldiers.  In  this  way,  for  the  reasons  we 
have  alleged,  he  will  avoid  affectation,  and  even  the  middling 
things  that  he  does,  shall  seem  very  great." 

45'— Messer  Pietro  Bembo  here  replied: 

"  Count,  I  do  not  see  why  you  insist  that  this  Courtier,  being 
lettered  and  endowed  with  so  many  other  admirable  accomplish- 
ments, should  hold  everything  as  an  ornament  of  arms,  and  not 
arms  and  the  rest  as  an  ornament  of  letters;  which  without 
other  accompaniment  are  as  superiour  in  dignity  to  arms,  as  the 
mind  is  to  the  body,  for  the  practice  of  them  properly  pertains 
to  the  mind,  as  that  of  arms  does  to  the  body." 

Then  the  Count  replied: 

"Nay,  the  practice  of  arms  pertains  to  both  mind  and  body. 
But  I  would  not  have  you  judge  in  such  a  cause,  messer  Pietro,  for 




you  would  be  too  much  suspected  of  bias  by  one  of  the  two  sides: 
and  as  the  controversy  has  already  been  long  waged  by  very 
wise  men,  there  is  no  need  to  renew  it;  but  I  regard  it  as  settled 
in  favour  of  arms,  and  would  have  our  Courtier  so  regard  it  too, 
since  I  may  form  him  as  I  wish.  And  if  you  are  of  contrary 
mind,  wait  till  you  hear  of  a  contest  wherein  he  who  defends  the 
cause  of  arms  is  allowed  to  use  arms,  just  as  those  who  defend 
letters  make  use  of  letters  in  their  defence;  for  if  everyone 
avails  himself  of  his  proper  weapons,  you  shall  see  that  men  of 
letters  will  be  worsted." 

"Ah,"  said  messer  Pietro,  "a  while  ago  you  blamed  the  French 
for  prizing  letters  little,  and  told  what  glorious  lustre  is  shed  on 
man  by  letters  and  how  they  make  him  immortal;  and  now  it 
seems  you  have  changed  your  mind.     Do  you  not  remember  that 

Before  the  famous  tomb  of  brave  Achilles 
Thus  spake  the  mighty  Alexander,  sighing: 
'  O  happy  youth,  who  found  so  clear  a  trumpet, 
And  lofty  bard  to  make  thy  deeds  undying ! '  ™ 

And  if  Alexander  envied  Achilles  not  for  his  deeds,  but  for  the 
fortune  that  had  granted  him  the  happiness  of  having  his  exploits 
celebrated  by  Homer,  we  may  conclude  that  Alexander  esteemed 
Homer's  poems  above  Achilles's  arms.  For  what  other  judge  do 
you  wait  then,  or  for  what  other  sentence  upon  the  dignity  of 
arms  and  letters,  than  that  pronounced  by  one  of  the  greatest 
commanders  that  have  ever  been?" 

46.— Then  the  Count  replied: 

"I  blame  the  French  for  thinking  that  letters  are  a  hindrance 
to  the  profession  of  arms,  and  I  hold  that  learning  is  more  proper 
to  no  one  than  to  a  warrior;  and  in  our  Courtier  I  would  have 
these  two  accomplishments  joined  and  each  aided  by  the  other, 
as  is  most  proper:  nor  do  I  think  I  have  changed  my  mind  in 
this.  But  as  I  said,  I  do  not  wish  to  discuss  which  of  the  two  is 
more  worthy  of  praise.  It  is  enough  that  men  of  letters  almost 
never  select  for  praise  any  but  great  men  and  glorious  deeds, 
which  in  themselves  merit  praise  for  the  mere  essential  quality 
from  which  they  spring;  besides  this  they  are  very  noble  material 
for  writers:  which  is  a  great  ornament,  and  in  part  the  cause  of 


perpetuating  writings,  which  perhaps  would  not  be  so  much  read 
and  appreciated  if  they  lacked  their  noble  theme,  but  vain  and  of 
little  moment. 

"And  if  Alexander  was  envious  that  Achilles  should  be 
praised  by  Homer,  it  does  not  therefore  follow  that  he  esteemed 
letters  above  arms;  wherein  if  he  had  felt  himself  as  far  behind 
Achilles  as  he  deemed  all  those  who  wrote  of  him  were  behind 
Homer,  I  am  sure  he  would  far  rather  have  desired  fine  acts  on 
his  part  than  fine  speeches  on  the  part  of  others.  Hence  I 
believe  that  saying  of  his  to  have  been  a  tacit  eulogy  of  himself, 
and  that  he  was  expressing  a  desire  for  what  he  thought  he  did 
not  possess  (that  is,  the  supreme  excellence  of  a  writer),  and  not 
for  what  he  believed  he  already  had  attained  (that  is,  prowess  in 
arms,  wherein  he  did  not  deem  Achilles  at  all  his  superior). 
Thus  he  called  Achilles  happy,  as  if  hinting  that  although  his 
own  fame  had  hitherto  not  been  so  celebrated  in  the  world  as 
Achilles's,  which  was  made  bright  and  illustrious  by  that  poem 
so  divine, —  it  was  not  because  his  valour  and  merits  were  less 
or  deserving  of  less  praise,  but  because  fortune  bestowed  upon 
Achilles  that  miracle  of  nature  as  a  glorious  trumpet  for  his 
achievements.  Perhaps  also  he  wished  to  incite  some  noble 
genius  to  write  about  him,  by  showing  that  this  must  be  as 
pleasing  to  him  as  were  his  love  and  veneration  for  the  sacred 
monuments  of  letters:  whereof  we  have  spoken  long  enough  for 
the  present," 

"  Nay,  too  long,"  replied  my  lord  Ludovico  Pio;  "  for  I  believe 
that  in  the  whole  world  it  would  be  impossible  to  find  a  recepta- 
cle large  enough  to  hold  all  the  things  you  would  have  in  our 

Then  the  Count  said: 

"  W^ait  a  little,  for  there  are  many  more  that  he  must  have." 

"In  that  case,"  replied  Pietro  da  Napoli,  "Grasso  de'  Medici 
would  have  a  great  advantage  over  messer  Pietro  Bembo."'" 

47 — Here  everyone  laughed,  and  the  Count  began  anew  and  said: 

"  My  lords,  you  must  know  that  I  am  not  content  with  the 
Courtier  unless  he  be  also  a  musician  and  unless,  besides  under- 
standing and  being  able  to  read  notes,  he  can  play  upon  divers 
instruments.     For  if  we  consider  rightly,  there  is  to  be  found  no 



rest  from  toil  or  medicine  for  the  troubled  spirit  more  becoming 
and  praiseworthy  in  time  of  leisure,  than  this;  and  especially  in 
courts,  where  besides  the  relief  from  tedium  that  music  affords 
us  all,  many  things  are  done  to  please  the  ladies,  whose  tender 
and  gentle  spirit  is  easily  penetrated  by  harmony  and  filled  with 
sweetness.  Thus  it  is  no  marvel  that  in  both  ancient  and  mod- 
ern times  they  have  always  been  inclined  to  favour  musicians, 
and  have  found  refreshing  spiritual  food  in  music." 

Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  I  admit  that  music  as  well  as  many  other  vanities  may  be 
proper  to  women  and  perhaps  to  sc-me  that  have  the  semblance 
of  men,  but  not  to  those  who  reaily  are  men;  for  these  ought 
not  to  enervate  their  mind  with  del  ghts  and  thus  induce  therein 
a  fear  of  death." 

"Say  not  so,"  replied  the  Count;  "for  I  shall  enter  upon  a 
vast  sea  in  praise  of  music.  And  I  shall  call  to  mind  how  it 
was  always  celebrated  and  held  sacred  among  the  ancients,  and 
how  very  sage  philosophers  were  of  opinion  that  the  world  is 
composed  of  music,  that  the  heavens  make  harmony  in  their 
moving,  and  that  the  soul,  being  ordered  in  like  fashion,  awakes 
and  as  it  were  revives  its  powers  through  music. 

"  Thus  it  is  written  that  Alexander  was  sometimes  excited  by 
it  so  passionately,  that  he  was  forced  almost  against  his  will  to 
leave  the  banquet  table  and  rush  to  arms;  and  when  the  musi- 
cian changed  the  temper  of  the  tune,  he  grew  calm  again,  lay 
aside  his  arms,  and  returned  to  the  banquet  table.  Moreover  I 
will  tellyou  that  grave  Socrates  Iciirned  to  play  the  cithern'"  at 
a  very  advanced  age.  And  I  remember  having  once  heard  that 
Plato  and  Aristotle  would  have  the  man  of  culture  a  musician 
also;  and  they  show  by  a  host  of  arguments  that  the  power  of 
music  over  us  is  very  great,  and  (for  many  reasons  which  would 
be  too  long  to  tell  now)  that  it  must  needs  be  taught  from  child- 
hood, not  so  much  for  the  mere  melody  that  we  hear,  but  for  the 
power  it  has  to  induce  in  us  a  fresh  and  good  habit  of  mind  and 
an  habitual  tendency  to  virtue,  which  renders  the  soul  more 
capable  of  happiness,  just  as  bodily  exercise  renders  the  body 
more  robust;'"  and  that  music  is  not  only  no  hindrance  in  the 
pursuits  of  peace  and  war,  but  is  very  helpful  therein. 



"  Again,  Lycurgus™  approved  of  music  in  his  harsh  laws.  And 
we  read  that  in  their  battles  the  very  warlike  Lacedemonians 
and  Cretans  used  the  cithern  and  other  dulcet  instruments;  that 
many  very  excellent  commanders  of  antiquity,  like  Epaminon- 
das,'"  practised  music;  and  that  those  who  were  ignorant  of  it, 
like  Themistocles,'"'  were  far  less  esteemed.  Have  you  not  read 
that  music  was  among  the  first  accomplishments  which  the  wor- 
thy old  Chiron  taught  Achilles  in  tender  youth,"'  whom  he  reared 
from  the  age  of  nurse  and  c?adle?  and  that  the  sage  preceptor 
insisted  that  the  hands  which  were  to  shed  so  much  Trojan  blood, 
should  be  often  busied  with  the  cithern?  Where  is  the  soldier 
who  would  be  ashamed  to  iihitate  Achilles, — to  say  nothing  of 
many  other  famous  commanders  whom  I  could  cite? 

"Therefore  seek  not  to  deprive  our  Courtier  of  music,  which 
not  only  soothes  men's  minds,  but  often  tames  wild  beasts;'"'"  and 
he  who  enjoys  it  not,  may  be  sure  that  his  spirit  is  ill  attuned. 
See  what  power  it  has,  to  make  (as  once  it  did)  a  fish  submit  to 
be  ridden  by  a  man  upon  the  boisterous  sea."'  We  find  it  used 
in  holy  temples  to  render  praise  and  thanks  to  God;  and  we 
must  believe  that  it  is  pleasing  to  Him  and  that  He  has  given  it 
to  us  as  most  sweet  alleviation  for  our  fatigues  and  troubles. 
Wherefore  rough  toilers  of  the  field  under  a  burning  sun  often 
cheat  their  weariness  with  crude  and  rustic  song.  W^ith  music 
the  rude  peasant  lass,  who  is  up  before  the  day  to  spin  or  weave, 
wards  off  her  drowsiness  and  makes  her  toil  a  pleasure;  music 
is  very  cheering  pastime  fo::  poor  sailors  after  rain,  wind  and 
tempest:  a  solace  to  tired  pilgrims  on  their  long  and  weary 
journeys,  and  often  to  sorrowing  captives  in  their  chains  and 
fetters.  Thus,  as  stronger  proof  that  melody  even  if  rude  is 
very  great  relief  from  every  human  toil  and  care,  nature  seems 
to  have  taught  it  to  the  nurse  as  chief  remedy  for  the  continual 
wailing  of  frail  children,  v^'ho  by  the  sound  of  her  voice  are 
brought  restful  and  placid  s  ieep,  forgetful  of  the  tears  so  proper 
to  them  and  given  us  in  that  age  by  nature  as  a  presage  of  our 
after  life." 

48 — As  the  Count  now  remained  silent  for  a  little,  the  Magnifico 
Giuliano  said: 

"  I  do  not  at  all  agree  with  my  lord  Caspar.     Nay  I  think,  for 



the  reasons  you  give  and  for  many  others,  that  music  is  not  only 
an  ornament  but  a  necessity  to  the  Courtier.  Yet  I  would  have 
you  declare  in  what  way  this  and  the  other  accomplishments 
that  you  prescribe  for  him,  are  to  be  practised,  and  at  what  time 
and  in  what  manner.™  For  many  things  that  are  praiseworthy 
in  themselves  often  become  very  inappropriate  when  practised 
out  of  season,  and  on  the  other  hand,  some  that  seem  of  little 
moment  are  highly  esteemed  when  made  use  of  opportunely." 

49-— Then  the  Count  said: 

"  Before  we  enter  upon  that  subject,  I  wish  to  discuss  another 
matter,  which  I  deem  of  great  importance  and  therefore  think 
our  Courtier  ought  by  no  means  to  omit:  and  this  is  to  kaosK 
how  to   draw  and  to  have  acquaintance  with_the_very-^art^Qf^ 

"  And  do  not  marvel  that  I  desire  this  art,  which  to-day  may 
seem  to  savour  of  the  artisan  and  little  to  befit  a  gentleman;  for 
I  remember  having  read  that  the  ancients,  especially  throughout 
Greece,  had  their  boys  of  gentle  birth  study  painting  in  school 
as  an  honourable  and  necessary  thing,  and  it  was  admitted  to 
the  first  rank  of  liberal  arts;  while  by  public  edict  they  forbade 
that  it  be  taught  to  slaves.  Among  the  Romans  too,  it  was  held 
in  highest  honour,  and  the  very  noble  family  of  the  Fabii  took 
their  name  from  it;  for  the  first  Fabius  was  given  the  name 
Pictor,  because, — being  indeed  a  most  excellent  painter,  and  so 
devoted  to  painting  that  when  he  painted  the  walls  of  the  temple 
of  Health, — he  inscribed  his  own  name  thereon;'"  for  although 
he  was  born  of  a  family  thus  renowned  and  honoured  with  so 
many  consular  titles,  triumphs  and  other  dignities,  and  although  ^ 
he  was  a  man  of  letters  and  learned  in  the  law,  and  numbered  ^ 
among  the  orators, — yet  he  thought  to  add  splendour  and  orna- 
ment to  his  fame  by  leaving  a  memorial  that  he  had  been  a,: 
painter.  Nor  is  there  lack  of  many  other  men  of  illustrious  " 
family,  celebrated  in  this  art;  which  besides  being  very  noble 
and  worthy  in  itself,  is  of  great  utility,  and  especially  in  war  for 
drawing  places,  sites,  rivers,  bridges,  rocks,  fortresses,  and  the 
like;  since  however  well  we  may  keep  them  in  memory  (which 
is  very  difficult),  we  cannot  show  them  to  others, 

"  And  truly  he  who  does  not  esteem  this  art,  seems  to  me  very 



unreasonable;  for  this  universal  fabric  that  we  see, — with  the 
vast  heaven  so  richly  adorned  with  shining  stars,  and  in  the 
midst  the  earth  girdled  by  the  seas,  varied  with  mountains, 
valleys  and  rivers,  and  bedecked  with  so  many  divers  trees, 
beautiful  flowers  and  grasses, — may  be  said  to  be  a  great  and 
noble  picture,  composed  by  the  hand  of  nature  and  of  God;  and 
whoever  is  able  to  imitate  it,  seems  to  me  deserving  of  great 
praise:  nor  can  it  be  imitated  without  knowledge  of  many  things, 
as  he  knows  well  who  tries.  Hence  the  ancients  greatly  prized 
both  the  art  and  the  artist,  which  thus  attained  the  summit  of 
highest  excellence;  very  sure  proof  of  which  maybe  found  in 
the  antique  marble  and  bronze  statues  that  yet  are  seen.""  And 
although  painting  is  different  from  sculpture,  both  the  one  and 
the  other  spring  from  the  same  source,  which  is  good  design. 
Therefore,  as  the  statues  are  divine,  so  we  may  believe  the  pic- 
tures were  also;  the  more  indeed  because  they  are  susceptible 
of  greater  skill." 

50-— Then  my  lady  Emilia  turned  to  Giancristoforo  Romano, 
who  was  sitting  with  the  others  there,  and  said: 

"  What  think  you  of  this  opinion  ?  Do  you  admit  that  paint- 
ing is  susceptible  of  greater  skill  than  sculpture?"™ 

Giancristoforo  replied: 

"  I,  my  Lady,  think  that  sculpture  needs  more  pains,  more 
skill,  and  is  of  greater  dignity  than  painting." 

The  Count  rejoined: 

"  In  that  statues  are  more  enduring,  perhaps  we  might  say 
they  are  of  greater  dignity ;  for  being  made  as  memorials,  they 
fulfil  better  than  painting  the  purpose  for  which  they  are  made. 
But  besides  serving  as  memorials,  both  painting  and  sculpture 
serve  also  to  beautify,  and  in  this  respect  painting  is  much 
superior;  for  if  less  diuturnal  (so  to  speak)  than  sculpture,  yet 
it  is  of  very  long  life,  and  is  far  more  charming  so  long  as  it 

Then  Giancristoforo  replied: 

"  I  really  think  that  you  are  speaking  against  your  convic- 
tions and  that  you  are  doing  so  solely  for  the  sake  of  your 
friend  Raphael;  and  perhaps  too  the  excellence  you  find  in  his 
painting  seems  to  you  so  consummate  that  sculpture  cannot 



rival  it:  but  consider  that  this  is  praise  of  an  artist  and  not  of  his 

Then  he  continued: 

"  It  seems  clear  to  me  that  both  the  one  and  the  other  are 
artificial  imitations  of  nature;  but  I  do  not  see  how  you  can  say 
that  truth,  such  as  nature  makes  it,  is  not  better  imitated  in  a 
marble  or   bronze   statue, —  wherein   the   members   are   round,  -» 

formed  and  measured,  as  nature  makes  them, — than  in  a  paint-  ^~^ 
ing,  where  we  see  nothing  but  the  surface  and  those  colours 
that  cheat  the  eyes;  nor  will  you  tell  me,  surely,  that  being  is 
not  nearer  truth  than  seeming.  Moreover  I  think  sculpture  is^ 
more  difficult,  because  if  a  slip  is  made,  it  cannot  be  corrected 
(since  marble  cannot  be  patched  again),  but  another  statue  must 
be  made  anew;  which  does  not  happen  with  painting,  for  one 
may  change  a  thousand  times,  and  add  and  take  away,  improv- 
ing always." 

5I-— The  Count  said,  laughing: 

"  I  am  not  speaking  for  Raphael's  sake;  nor  ought  you  to 
repute  me  so  ignorant  as  not  to  know  the  excellence  of  Michel- 
angelo in  sculpture,  your  own,  and  others'.  But  I  am  speaking 
of  the  art,  and  not  of  the  artists. 

"  You  say  very  truly  that  both  the  one  and  the  other  are  imi-^ 
tations  of  nature;  but  it  is  not  true  that  painting  seems,  and 
sculpture  is.  For  while  statues  are  round  as  in  life  and  painting 
is  seen  only  on  the  surface,  statues  lack  many  things  that  paint-^ 
ings  do  not  lack,  and  especially  light  and  shade.  Thus  flesh  has 
one  tone  and  marble  another;  and  this  the  painter  imitates  to 
the  life  by  chiaroscuro,  greater  or  less  according  to  the  need, — 
which  the  sculptor  cannot  do.  And  although  the  painter  does 
not  make  his  figure  round,  he  presents  the  muscles  and  mem- 
bers rounded  in  such  fashion  as  so  to  join  the  parts  which  are 
not  seen,  that  we  can  discern  very  well  that  the  painter  knows 
and  understands  these  also.  And  in  this,  another  and  greater 
skill  is  needed  to  represent  those  members  that  are  foreshort- 
ened and  grow  smaller  in  proportion  to  the  distance  by  reason 
of  perspective;  which,  by  means  of  measured  lines,  colours, 
lights  and  shades,  shows  you  foreground  and  distance  all  on  the 
single  surface  of  an  upright  wall,  in  such  proportion  as  he 


chooses."*  Do  you  really  think  it  of  small  moment  to  imitate 
the  natural  colours,  in  representing  flesh  or  stuffs  or  any  other 
coloured  thing?  The  sculptor  certainly  cannot  do  this,  or 
express  the  grace  of  black  eyes  or  blue,  with  the  splendour  of 
their  amourous  beams.  He  cannot  show  the  colour  of  fair  hair, 
or  the  gleam  of  weapons,  or  a  dark  night,  or  a  storm  at  sea,  or 
its  lightnings  and  thunderbolts,  or  the  burning  of  a  city,  or  the 
birth  of  rosy  dawn  with  its  rays  of  gold  and  purple.  In  short, 
/uAki  I  l^e  cannot  show  sky,  sea,  earth,  mountains,  woods,  meadows, 
j^         I  gardens,  rivers,  cities,  or    houses, — all   of  which   the   painter 

Ijshows.  ,'    -'i-.t'^      .  _.,      '.'.^^  ,    \    (>>Jf  ^kf/,'-  ^  ■ 

tJ>CB*^  52 — "Therefore  painting  seems  to  me  nobler  and  more  sus- 
ceptible of  skill,  than  sculpture.  And  I  think  that  it,  like  other 
things,  reached  the  summit  of  excellence  among  the  ancients: 
which  still  is  seen  in  the  few  slight  remains  that  are  left,  espe- 
cially in  the  grottoes  of  Rome;"^^'  but  much  more  clearly  may  it 
be  perceived  in  the  ancient  authors,  wherein  is  such  honoured 
and  frequent  mention  both  of  works  and  of  masters,  and  where- 
by we  learn  how  highly  they  were  always  honoured  by  great 
lords  and  by  commonw^ealths. 

"Thus  we  read  that  Alexander  loved  Apelles  of  Ephesus 
dearly, — so  dearly,  that  having  caused  the  artist  to  paint  a  por- 
trait of  his  favourite  slave  undraped,  and  hearing  that  the  wor- 
thy painter  had  become  most  ardently  enamoured  of  her  by 
reason  of  her  marvellous  beauty,  he  gave  her  to  Apelles  without 
hesitation: — munificence  truly  worthy  of  Alexander,  to  sacrifice 
not  only  treasure  and  states  but  his  very  affections  and  desires; 
and  sign  of  exceeding  love  for  Apelles,  in  order  to  please  the 
artist,  not  to  hesitate  at  displeasing  the  woman  he  dearly 
loved,  who  (we  may  believe)  was  sorely  grieved  to  change  so 
great  a  king. for  a  painter.  Many  other  signs  also  are  told  of 
Alexander's  favour  to  Apelles;  but  he  very  clearly  showed 
how  highly  he  esteemed  the  painter,  in  commanding  by  public 
edict  that  none  other  should  presume  to  paint  his  portrait. 

"  Here  I  could  tell  you  of  the  rivalries  of  many  noble  painters, 
which  filled  nearly  the  whole  world  with  praise  and  wonder- 
ment.    I  could  tell  you  with  what  solemnity  ancient  emperors 
.adorned  their  triumphs  with  pictures,  and  set  them  up  in  public 



places,  and  how  dearly  bought  them;  and  that  there  were  some 
painters  who  gave  their  works  as  gifts,  esteeming  gold  and 
silver  inadequate  to  pay  for  them;  and  how  a  painting  by  Pro- 
togenes  was  prized  so  highly,  that  when  Demetrius'*'  laid  siege 
to  Rhodes  and  could  have  gained  an  entrance  by  setting  fire  to 
the  quarter  where  he  knew  the  painting  was,  he  refrained  from 
giving  battle  so  that  it  might  not  be  burned,  and  thus  did  not 
capture  the  place;  and  that  Metrodorus,"'  a  philosopher  and 
very  excellent  painter,  was  sent  by  the  Athenians  to  Lucius 
Paulus''"  to  teach  his  children  and  to  adorn  the  triumph  that  he 
was  about  to  receive.  Moreover  many  noble  authors  have 
written  about  this  art,  which  is  a  great  sign  of  the  esteem  in 
which  it  was  held;  but  I  do  not  wish  to  enlarge  further  upon  it 
in  this  discussion. 

"  So  let  it  be  enough  to  say  that  it  is  fitting  for  our  Courtier 
to  have  knowledge  of  painting  also,  as  being  honourable  and 
useful  and  highly  prized  in  those  times  when  men  were  of  far 
greater  worth  than  now  they  are.  And  if  he  should  never 
derive  from  it  other  use  or  pleasure  than  the  help  it  affords  in 
judging  the  merit  of  statues  ancient  and  modern,  of  vases,  build- 
ings, medals,  cameos,  intaglios,  and  the  like, — it  also  enables  him 
to  appreciate  the  beauty  of  living  bodies,  not  only  as  to  delicacy 
of  face  but  as  to  symmetry  of  all  the  other  parts,  both  in  men 
and  in  every  other  creature.  Thus  you  see  how  a  knowledge 
of  painting  is  a  source  of  very  great  pleasure.  And  let  those 
think  of  this,  who  so  delight  in  contemplating  a  woman's  beauty 
that  they  seem  to  be  in  paradise,  and  yet  cannot  paint;  which  if 
they  could  do,  they  would  have  much  greater  pleasure,  because 
they  would  more  perfectly  appreciate  that  beauty  which  engen- 
ders such  satisfaction  in  their  hearts." 

53-— Here  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  laughed,  and  said: 

"Certainly  I  am  no  painter;  yet  I  am  sure  I  have  greater 
pleasure  in  looking  upon  a  woman  than  that  admirable  Apelles, 
whom  you  just  mentioned,  would  have  if  he  were  now  come 
back  to  life." 

The  Count  replied: 

"  This  pleasure  of  yours  is  not  derived  wholly  from  her 
beauty,  but  from  the  affection  that  perhaps  you  bear  her;  and  if 



you  will  say  the  truth,  the  first  time  you  saw  that  woman  you 
did  not  feel  a  thousandth  part  of  the  pleasure  that  you  did  after- 
wards, although  her  beauty  was  the  same.  Thus  you  may  see 
how  much  more  affection  had  to  do  with  your  pleasure,  than 
beauty  had." 

"I  do  not  deny  this,"  said  messer  Cesare;  "but  just  as  my 
pleasure  is  born  of  affection,  so  is  affection  born  of  beauty. 
Thus  it  may  still  be  said  that  beauty  is  the  cause  of  my 

The  Count  replied: 

"Many  other  causes  also  inflame  our  minds,  besides  beauty: 
such  as  manners,  knowledge,  speech,  gesture,  and  a  thousand 
other  things  which  in  a  way  perhaps  might  also  be  called  beau- 
ties ;  but  above  all,  the  consciousness  of  being  loved.  So  it  is 
possible  to  love  very  ardently  even  without  that  beauty  you 
speak  of;  but  the  love  that  springs  from  the  outward  bodily 
beauty  which  we  see,  will  doubtless  give  far  greater  pleasure 
to  him  who  appreciates  it  more  than  to  him  who  appreciates 
it  less.  Therefore,  to  return  to  our  subject,  I  think  that  Apelles 
enjoyed  the  contemplation  of  Campaspe's  beauty  far  more  than 
Alexander  did:™  for  we  may  easily  believe  that  both  men's  love 
sprang  only  from  her  beauty;  and  perhaps  it  was  partly  on  this 
account  that  Alexander  resolved  to  give  her  to  him  who  seemed 
fitted  to  appreciate  her  most  perfectly. 

"Have  you  not  read  that  those  five  maidens  of  Crotona,  whom 
the  painter  Zeuxis  chose  above  the  others  of  that  city  for  the 
purpose  of  forming  from  them  all  a  single  type  of  surpassing 
beauty,  were  celebrated  by  many  poets  as  having  been  adjudged 
beautiful  by  one  who  must  have  been  a  consummate  judge  of 

54 — Messer  Cesare  here  seemed  ill  satisfied  and  unwilling  to 
admit  for  a  moment  that  anyone  but  himself  could  taste  that 
pleasure  which  he  felt  in  contemplating  a  woman's  beauty,  and 
he  began  to  speak.  But  just  then  a  great  tramping  of  feet  was 
heard,  and  the  sound  of  loud  talking;  whereupon  everyone 
turned,  and  a  glare  of  torches  was  seen  at  the  door  of  the  room, 
and  soon  there  arrived,  with  a  numerous  and  noble  company, 
my  lord  Prefect,'  who  returned  from  attending  the  pope  part 



way  on  the  journey.  At  once  on  entering  the  palace  he  had 
asked  what  my  lady  Duchess  was  doing,  and  had  learned  of 
what  manner  the  game  was  that  evening,  and  the  charge  im- 
posed on  Count  Ludovico  to  speak  about  Courtiership.  There- 
fore he  came  as  fast  as  he  could,  so  as  to  arrive  in  season  to 
hear  something.  Then,  immediately  after  having  made  his 
reverence  to  my  lady  Duchess  and  bidden  the  others  to  be 
seated  (for  everyone  had  risen  when  he  came  in), — he  too  sat 
down  in  the  circle  with  some  of  his  gentlemen;  among  whom 
were  the  Marquess  Febus  di  Ceva  and  his  brother  Gerardino,'" 
messer  Ettore  Romano,'"  Vincenzo  Calmeta,'"  Orazio  Florido,"' 
and  many  others;  and  as  everyone  remained  silent,  my  lord 
Prefect  said: 

"  Gentlemen,  my  coming  here  would  be  indeed  a  pity,  if  I  were 
to  interrupt  such  a  fine  discussion  as  I  think  you  were  just  now 
engaged  in;  so  do  me  not  this  wrong  of  depriving  yourselves 
and  me  of  such  a  pleasure." 

Then  Count  Ludovico  said: 

"  Nay,  my  Lord,  I  think  we  all  must  be  far  better  pleased  to 
be  silent  than  to  speak;  for  this  burden  having  fallen  more  to 
me  than  to  the  others  this  evening,  I  have  at  last  grown  weary 
of  speaking,  and  I  think  all  the  others  are  weary  of  listening,  for 
my  talk  has  not  been  worthy  of  this  company  or  adequate  to  the 
lofty  theme  that  I  was  charged  with;  in  which,  having  little  satis- 
fied myself,  I  think  I  have  satisfied  the  others  still  less.  So  you 
were  fortunate,  my  Lord,  to  come  in  at  the  end.  And  for  the 
rest  of  the  discussion,  it  would  indeed  be  well  to  appoint  some- 
one else  to  take  my  place,  because  whoever  he  may  be,  I  know 
he  will  fill  it  far  better  than  I  should  even  if  I  were  willing  to  go 
on,  being  now  tired  as  I  am." 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

55-—"  I  certainly  shall  not  submit  to  be  cheated  of  the  promise 
that  you  made  me,  and  am  sure  my  lord  Prefect  too  will  not  be 
sorry  to  hear  that  part  of  our  discussion." 

"  And  what  promise  was  it?"  said  the  Count. 

"  To  tell  us  in  what  way  the  Courtier  must  make  use  of  those 
good  qualities  that  you  have  said  befit  him,"  replied  the  Magnifico. 

Although  but  a  boy,  my  lord  Prefect  was  wise  and  sensible 



beyond  what  seemed  natural  to  his  tender  years,  and  in  his 
every  movement  he  showed  a  loftiness  of  mind  and  a  certain 
vivacity  of  temper  that  gave  true  presage  of  the  high  pitch  of 
manliness  that  he  was  to  attain.     So  he  said  quickly: 

'*  If  all  this  is  to  be  told,  I  think  I  have  come  just  in  time ;  for 
by  hearing  in  what  way  the  Courtier  must  use  his  good  qualities, 
I  shall  hear  also  what  they  are,  and  thus  shall  come  to  learn 
everything  that  has  been  said  before.  So  do  not  refuse,  Count, 
to  fulfil  the  obligation  of  which  you  have  already  performed  a 

"  I  should  not  have  so  heavy  an  obligation  to  fulfil,"  replied 
the  Count,  "  if  the  labour  were  more  evenly  divided;  but  the 
mistake  was  made  of  giving  the  right  of  command  to  a  too  par- 
tial lady;"  and  then  laughing  he  turned  to  my  lady  Emilia,  who 
quickly  said: 

"It  is  not  you  who  ought  to  complain  of  my  partiality;  but 
since  you  do  so  without  reason,  we  will  give  someone  else  a 
share  of  this  honour,  which  you  call  labour;"  and  turning  to 
messer  Federico  Fregoso,  she  said:  "You  proposed  the  game  of 
the  Courtier,  hence  it  is  right  that  you  should  bear  some  share 
in  it;  and  this  shall  be  to  comply  with  my  lord  Magnifico's  re- 
quest, by  declaring  in  what  way,  manner  and  time,  the  Courtier 
ought  to  make  use  of  his  good  qualities  and  practise  those  things 
which  the  Count  has  said  it  is  fitting  he  should  know." 

Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"  My  Lady,  in  trying  to  separate  the  way  and  the  time  and  the 
manner  of  the  Courtier's  good  qualities  and  good  practice,  you 
try  to  separate  that  which  cannot  be  separated,  because  these 
are  the  very  things  that  make  his  qualities  good,  and  his  practice 
good.  Therefore,  since  the  Count  has  spoken  so  much  and  so 
well,  and  has  touched  somewhat  upon  these  matters  and  arranged 
in  his  mind  the  rest  of  what  he  has  to  say,  it  was  only  right  that 
he  should  continue  to  the  end." 

"  Account  yourself  to  be  the  Count,"  said  my  lady  Emilia, 
"  and  say  what  you  think  he  would  say;  and  thus  all  will  be 

56.— Then  Calmeta  said: 

"  My  Lords,  since  the  hour  is  late,  and  in  order  that  messer 



Federico  may  have  no  excuse  for  not  telling  what  he  knows,  I 
think  it  would  be  well  to  postpone  the  rest  of  the  discussion  until 
to-morrow,  and  let  the  little  time  we  have  left,  be  spent  in  some 
other  quiet  diversion." 

As  everyone  approved,  my  lady  Duchess  desired  madonna 
Margarita'"  and  madonna  Costanza  Fregosa^to  dance.  Where- 
upon Barletta,'"  a  very  charming  musician  and  excellent  dancer, 
who  always  kept  the  whole  court  in  good  humour,  began  to  play 
upon  his  instruments;  and  joining  hands,  the  two  ladies  danced 
first  a  basset  and  then  a  roegarae,"'  with  consummate  grace  and 
to  the  great  delight  of  those  who  saw  them.  Then  the  night 
being  already  far  spent,  my  lady  Duchess  rose  to  her  feet,  and 
so  everyone  reverently  took  leave  and  retired  to  sleep. 




I.— I  have  often  considered  not  without  wonder  whence  arises 
a  fault,  which,  as  it  is  universally  found  among  old  people,  may 
be  believed  to  be  proper  and  natural  to  them.  And  this  is,  that 
they  nearly  all  praise  bygone  times  and  censure  the  present, 
inveighing  against  our  acts  and  ways  and  everything  which 
they  in  their  youth  did  not  do;  affirming  too  that  every  good 
custom  and  good  manner  of  living,  every  virtue,  in  short  every 
thing,  is  always  going  from  bad  to  worse. 

And  verily  it  seems  quite  contrary  to  reason  and  worthy  to  be 
wondered  at,  that  ripe  age,  which  in  other  matters  is  wont  to 
make  men's  judgment  more  perfect  with  long  experience,  should 
in  this  matter  so  corrupt  it  that  they  do  not  perceive  that  if  the 
world  were  always  growing  worse,  and  if  fathers  were  gener- 
ally better  than  children,  we  should  long  since  have  reached 
that  last  grade  of  badness  beyond  which  it  is  impossible  to  grow 
worse.  And  yet  we  see  that  not  only  in  our  days  but  in  bygone 
times  this  failing  has  always  been  peculiar  to  old  age,  which  is 
clearly  gathered  from  the  works  of  many  ancient  authors,  and 
especially  of  the  comic  writers,  who  better  than  the  others  set 
forth  the  image  of  human  life. 

Now  the  cause  of  this  wrong  judgment  among  old  people  I 
for  my  part  take  to  be,  that  the  fleeting  years  despoil  them  of 
many  good  things,  and  among  others  in  great  part  rob  the 
blood  of  vital  spirits;  whence  the  complexion  changes,  and 
those  organs  become  weak  through  which  the  soul  exerts  its 
powers.'**  Thus  in  old  age  the  sweet  flowers  of  contentment  fall 
from  our  hearts,  like  leaves  from  a  tree  in  autumn,  and  in  place 
of  serene  and  sunny  thoughts,  comes  cloudy  and  turbid  sadness 
with  its  train  of  thousand  ills.  So  that  not  the  body  only  but 
the  mind  also  is  infirm;  of  bygone  pleasures  naught  is  left  but  a 



lingering  memory  and  the  image  of  that  precious  time  of  tender 
youth,  in  which  (when  it  is  with  us)  sky  and  earth  and  all  things 
seem  to  us  ever  making  merry  and  laughing  before  our  eyes, 
and  the  sweet  springtide  of  happiness  seems  to  blossom  in  our 
thought,  as  in  a  delightful  and  lovely  garden. 

Therefore  in  the  evening  chill  of  life,  when  our  sun  begins  to 
sink  to  its  setting  and  steals  away  those  pleasures,  we  should 
fare  better  if  in  losing  them,  we  could  lose  the  memory  of  them 
also,  and  as  Themistocles  said,  find  an  art  that  shall  teach  us  to 
forget.  For  so  deceitful  are  our  bodily  senses,  that  they  often 
cheat  even  the  judgment  of  our  minds.  Thus  it  seems  to  me 
that  old  people  are  in  like  case  with  those  who  keep  their  eyes 
fixed  upon  the  land  as  they  leave  port,  and  think  their  ship 
is  standing  still  and  the  shore  recedes,  although  it  is  the  other 
way.  For  both  the  port  and  also  time  and  its  pleasures  remain 
the  same,  and  one  after  another  we  take  flight  in  the  ship  of 
mortality  upon  that  boisterous  sea  which  absorbs  and  devours 
everything,  and  are  never  suffered  to  touch  shore  again,  but 
always  tossed  by  adverse  winds  we  are  wrecked  upon  some 
rock  at  last. 

Since  therefore  the  senile  mind  is  an  unfit  subject  for  many 
pleasures,  it  cannot  enjoy  them;  and  just  as  to  men  in  fever, 
when  the  palate  is  spoiled  by  corrupt  vapours,  all  wines  seem 
bitter,  however  precious  and  delicate  they  be, —  so  old  men, 
because  of  their  infirmity  (which  yet  does  not  deprive  them  of 
appetite),  find  pleasures  flat  and  cold  and  very  different  from 
those  which  they  remember  tasting  of  old,  although  the  plea- 
sures are  intrinsically  the  same.  Thus  they  feel  themselves  de- 
spoiled, and  they  lament  and  call  the  present  times  bad,  not 
perceiving  that  the  change  lies  in  themselves  and  not  in  the 
times;  and  on  the  other  hand  they  call  to  mind  their  bygone 
pleasures,  and  bring  back  the  time  when  these  were  enjoyed 
and  praise  it  as  good,  because  it  seems  to  carry  with  it  a  savour 
of  what  they  felt  when  it  was  present.  For  in  truth  our  minds 
hold  all  things  hateful  that  have  been  with  us  in  our  sorrows, 
and  love  those  that  have  been  with  us  in  our  joys. 

This  is  why  it  is  sometimes  highest  bliss  for  a  lover  to  look  at 
a  window  although  closed,  because  he  there  had  once  the  hap- 



piness  to  gaze  upon  the  lady  of  his  love;  and  in  the  same  way  to 
look  at  a  ring,  a  letter,  a  garden  or  other  place,  or  what  you 
will,  which  seems  to  him  a  conscious  witness  of  his  joys.  And 
on  the  contrary,  a  gorgeous  and  beautiful  room  will  often  be 
irksome  to  a  man  who  has  been  prisoner  or  has  suffered  some 
other  sorrow  there.  And  I  once  knew  some  who  would  not 
drink  from  a  cup  like  that  from  which  in  illness  they  had  taken 
medicine.  For  just  as  to  the  one  the  window  or  ring  or  letter 
recalls  the  sweet  memory  that  gives  him  such  delight  and  seems 
part  of  his  bygone  joy, — so  to  the  other,  the  room  or  cup  brings 
his  illness  or  imprisonment  to  mind.  I  believe  that  the  same 
cause  leads  old  people  to  praise  bygone  times  and  to  censure 
the  present. 

2.— Therefore  as  they  speak  of  other  things,  so  do  they  also  of 
courts,  affirming  those  which  they  remember,  to  have  been  far 
more  excellent  and  full  of  eminent  men  than  those  which  we  see 
to-day.  And  as  soon  as  such  discussions  are  started,  they  begin 
to  extol  with  boundless  praise  the  courtiers  of  Duke  Filippo  or 
Duke  Borso;'"  and  they  narrate  the  sayings  of  Niccolo  Picci- 
nino;™  and  they  remind  us  that  there  were  no  murders  in  those 
days  (or  very  few  at  most),  no  brawls,  no  ambushes,  no  deceits, 
but  a  certain  frank  and  kindly  good  will  among  all  men,  a  loyal 
confidence;  and  that  in  the  courts  of  that  time  such  good  behav- 
iour and  decorum  prevailed,  that  courtiers  •were-all-Uke  monks, 
and  woe  to  him  who  should  have  spoken  insultingly  to  another, 
or  so  much  as  made  a  less  than  decorous  gesture  to  a  woman. 
And  on  the  other  hand  they  say  everything  is  the  reverse  in  these 
days,  and  that  not  only  have  courtiers  lost  their  fraternal  love 
and  gentle  mode  of  life,  but  that  nothing  prevails  in  courts  but 
envy,  malice,  immorality  and  very  dissolute  living,  with  every 
sort  of  vice, — the  women  lascivious  without  shame,  the  men 
effeminate.  They  condemn  our  dress  also  as  indecorous  and  too 

In  short  they  censure  an  infinity  of  things,  among  which  many 
indeed  merit  censure,  for  it  cannot  be  denied  that  there  are  many 
bad  and  wicked  men  among  us,  or  that  this  age  of  ours  is  much 
fuller  of  vice  than  that  which  they  praise.'"  Yet  it  seems  to  me 
that  they  ill  discern  the  cause  of  this  difference,  and  that  they  are 



foolish.  For  they  would  have  the  world  contain  all  good  and  no 
evil,  which  is  impossible;  because,  since  evil  is  opposed  to  good 
and  good  to  evil,  it  is  almost  necessary,  by  force  of  opposition 
and  counterpoise  as  it  were,  that  the  one  should  sustain  and 
fortify  the  other,  and  that  if  either  wanes  or  waxes,  so  must  the 
other  also,  since  there  is  no  contrary  without  its  contrary. 

Who  does  not  know  that  there  would  be  no  justice  in  the 
world,  if  there  were  no  wrongs?  No  courage,  if  there  were  no 
cowards?  No  continence,  if  there  were  no  incontinence?  No 
health,  if  there  were  no  infirmity?  No  truth,  if  there  were  no 
lying?  No  good  fortune,  if  there  were  no  misfortunes?  Thus, 
according  to  Plato,'"  Socrates  well  says  it  is  surprising  that  ^sop 
did  not  write  a  fable  showing  that  as  God  had  never  beeDuable 
to  join  pleasure  and  pain  together.  He  joined  them  by  their  ex- 
jtremities,  so  that  the  beginning  of  the  one  should  be  the  end  of 
the  other;  for  we  see  that  no  joy  can  give  us  pleasure,  unless 
sorrow  precedes  it.  Who  can  hold  rest  dear,  unless  he  has  first 
felt  the  hardship  of  fatigue?  Who  enjoys  food,  drink  and  sleep, 
unless  he  has  first  endured  hunger,  thirst  and  wakefulness? 
Hence  I  believe  that  sufferings  and  diseases  were  given  man  by 
nature  not  chiefly  to  make  him  subject  to  them  (since  it  does  not 
seem  fitting  that  she  who  is  mother  of  every  good  should  give  us 
such  evils  of  her  own  determined  purpose),  but  as  nature  created 
health,  joy  and  other  blessings, —  diseases,  sorrows  and  other  ills 
followed  after  them  as  a  consequence.  In  like  manner,  the  virtues 
having  been  bestowed  upon  the  world  by  grace  and  gift  of  nature, 
at  once  by  force  of  that  same  bounden  opposition,  the  vices  became 
their  fellows  by  necessity;  so  that  always  as  the  one  waxes  or 
wanes,  thus  likewise  must  needs  the  other  wax  or  wane. 

3'— So  when  our  old  men  praise  bygone  courts  for  not  contain- 
ing such  vicious  men  as  some  that  our  courts  contain,  they  do  not 
perceive  that  their  courts  did  not  contain  such  virtuous  men  as 
some  that  ours  contain;  which  is  no  marvel,  for  no  evil  is  so  bad 
as  that  which  springs  from  the  corrupted  seed  of  good,  and  hence, 
as  nature  now  puts  forth  far  better  wits  than  she  did  then,  those 
who  devote  themselves  to  good,  do  far  better  than  was  formerly 
done,  and  likewise  those  who  devote  themselves  to  evil,  do  far 
worse.     Therefore  we  must  not  on  that  account  say  that  those 



who  refrained  from  evil  because  they  did  not  know  how  to  do 
evil,  deserved  any  praise  for  it;  for  although  they  did  little  harm, 
they  did  the  worst  they  could.  And  that  the  wits  of  those  times 
were  generally  inferior  to  those  of  our  time,  can  be  well  enough 
perceived  in  all  that  we  see  of  those  times,  both  in  letters  and  in 
pictures,  statues,  buildings,  and  every  other  thing. 

These  old  men  censure  us  also  for  many  a  thing  that  in  it- 
self is  neither  good  nor  evil,  simply  because  they  did  not  do 
it.  And  they  say  it  is  not  seemly  for  young  men  to  ride  through 
the  city  on  horse,  still  less  in  pumps,  to  wear  fur  linings  or 
long  skirts  in  winter,  or  to  wear  a  cap  before  reaching  at  least 
the  age  of  eighteen  years,  and  the  like;  wherein  they  certainly 
are  wrong,  for  besides  being  convenient  and  useful,  tjieae-xua^ 
toms  have  been  introduced  by  usage  and  meet  universal  fa- 
_vour,  just  as  formerly  it  was  to  go  about  in  gala  dress  with  open' 
breeches  and  polished  pumps,  and  for  greater  elegance  to  carry 
a  sparrow-hawk  on  the  wrist  all  day  without  reason,  to  dance 
without  touching  the  lady's  hand,  and  to  follow  many  other 
fashions  that  now  would  be  as  very  clumsy  as  they  then  were 
highly  prized. 

Therefore  let  it  be  allowed  us  also  to  follow  the  custom  of  our 
time  without  being  slandered  by  these  old  men,  who  in  their 
wish  to  praise  themselves,  often  say:  "When  I  was  twenty 
years  old,  I  still  slept  with  my  mother  and  sisters,  nor  did  I  for 
a  long  time  afterwards  know  what  women  are;  while  now,  boys 
hardly  have  hair  on  their  heads  before  they  know  more  tricks 
than  grown  men  did  in  our  time."  Nor  do  they  perceive  that  in 
saying  this  they  acknowledge  that  our  boys  have  more  mind 
than  their  old  men  had. 

Let  them  cease  then  to  censure  our  time  as  full  of  vices,  for  in 
removing  the  vices  they  would  remove  the  virtues  too;  and  let 
them  remember  that  among  the  worthies  of  old,  in  the  ages 
when  there  lived  those  spirits  who  were  glorious  and  truly  divine 
in  every  virtue,  and  those  more  than  human  minds, — there  were 
also  to  be  found  many  very  bad  men;  who  (if  they  were  living) 
would  be  as  eminently  bad  among  our  bad  men,  as  the  good 
men  of  that  time  would  be  eminently  good.  And  of  this,  all 
history  gives  ample  proof. 



4-— But  I  think  these  old  men  have  now  sufficient  answer.  So 
we  will  end  this  homily,  perhaps  already  too  diffuse  but  not 
wholly  irrelevant  to  our  subject;  and  as  it  is  enough  for  us  to 
have  shown  that  the  courts  of  our  time  were  worthy  of  no  less 
praise  than  those  which  old  men  praise  so  highly, — we  will  pur- 
sue the  discussion  about  the  Courtier,  from  which  we  may  easily 
understand  what  rank  the  court  of  Urbino  held  among  other 
courts,  and  of  what  quality  were  the  Prince  and  Lady  to  whom 
such  noble  spirits  did  service,  and  how  fortunate  they  might  hold 
themselves  who  lived  in  such  companionship. 

5-— Now  the  following  day  having  arrived,  there  were  many  and 
diverse  discussions  among  the  cavaliers  and  ladies  of  the  court 
concerning  the  debate  of  the  evening  before;  which  in  great  part 
arose  because  my  lord  Prefect,  eager  to  know  what  had  been 
said,  questioned  nearly  everyone  about  it,  and  (as  is  always  wont 
to  be  the  case)  he  received  different  answers;  for  some  praised 
one  thing  and  some  another,  and  among  many  too  there  was 
disagreement  as  to  the  Count's  real  opinion,  since  everyone's 
memory  did  not  quite  fully  retain  the  things  that  were  said. 

Thus  the  matter  w^as  discussed  nearly  all  day;  and  as  soon  as 
night  set  in,  my  lord  Prefect  desired  that  food  be  served  and  took 
all  the  gentlemen  away  to  supper.  When  they  had  done  eating, 
he  repaired  to  the  room  of  my  lady  Duchess,  who,  on  seeing  such 
a  numerous  company  and  earlier  than  the  custom  was,  said: 

"  Methinks,  messer  Federico,  it  is  a  heavy  burden  that  is 
placed  upon  your  shoulders,  and  great  the  expectation  you  must 

Then  without  waiting  for  messer  Federico  to  reply,  the  Unico 
Aretino  said: 

"  And  what,  forsooth,  is  this  great  burden?  W^ho  is  so  foolish 
that  when  he  knows  how  to  do  a  thing,  does  not  do  it  in  proper 

So,  discoursing  of  this,  everyone  sat  down  in  the  usual  place 
and  order,  with  eager  expectation  for  the  debate  appointed. 

6.— Then  messer  Federico  turned  to  the  Unico,  and  said: 

"  So,  my  lord  Unico,  you  do  not  think  that  a  laborious  part 
and  a  great  burden  are  imposed  on  me  this  evening,  having  to 
show  in  what  way,  manner  and  time  the  Courtier  ought  to  em- 



ploy  his  good  accomplishments  and  practise  those  things  that 
have  been  said  to  befit  him?" 

"It  seems  to  me  no  great  matter,"  replied  the  Unico;  "and  I 
think  it  is  quite  enough  to  say  that  the  Courtier  should  have  good 
judgment,  as  the  Count  last  evening  rightly  said  he  must;  and 
this  being  so,  I  think  that  without  other  precepts  he  ought  to  be 
able  to  use  what  he  knows  seasonably  and  in  a  well  bred  way. 
To  try  to  reduce  this  to  more  exact  rules  would  be  too  difficult 
and  perhaps  superfluous.  For  I  know  no  man  so  stupid  as  to 
wish  to  fence  when  others  are  intent  on  dancing;  or  to  go  through 
the  street  dancing  a  morris-dance,  however  admirably  he  might 
know  how;  or  in  trying  to  comfort  a  mother  whose  child  has 
died,  to  begin  with  pleasantries  and  witticism.  Surely  me- 
thinks  no  gentleman  would  do  this,  who  was  not  altogether 
a  fool." 

Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"  It  seems  to  me,  my  lord  Unico,  that  you  run  too  much  to 
extremes.  For  one  may  sometimes  be  silly  in  a  way  that  is 
not  so  easily  seen,  and  faults  are  not  always  of  the  same  degree: 
and  it  may  be  that  a  man  will  refrain  from  public  and  too  patent 
folly, — such  as  that  would  be  of  which  you  tell,  to  dance  a  morris- 
dance  about  the  piazza, — and  yet  cannot  refrain  from  praising 
himself  out  of  season,  from  displaying  a  tiresome  conceit,  from 
occasionally  saying  something  to  cause  laughter,  which  falls 
cold  and  wholly  flat  from  being  said  inopportunely.  And  these 
faults  are  often  covered  by  a  kind  of  veil  that  does  not  suffer 
them  to  be  seen  by  him  who  commits  them,  unless  he  searches 
for  them  with  care;  and  although  our  eyes  see  little  for  many 
reasons,  they  most  of  all  are  clouded  by  conceit,  since  everyone 
likes  to  make  a  show  in  that  wherein  he  believes  himself  profi- 
cient, whether  his  belief  be  true  or  false. 

"  Therefore  it  seems  to  me  that  the  right  course  in  this  regard 
lies  in  a  certain  prudent  and  judicious  choice,  and  in  discerning 
the  more  or  less  which  all  things  gain  or  lose  by  being  done 
opportunely  or  out  of  season.  And  although  the  Courtier  may 
possess  good  enough  judgment  to  perceive  these  distinctions, 
yet  I  think  it  would  surely  be  easier  for  him  to  attain  what  he  is 
seeking,  if  we  were  to  broaden  his  mind  by  a  few  precepts,  and 


show  him  the  way  and  as  it  were  the  foundations  upon  which 
he  must  build, —  than  if  he  were  to  follow  generalities  only. 

7 — "  Last  evening  the  Count  spoke  about  Courtiership  so  fully 
and  so  beautifully,  that  he  has  aroused  in  me  no  little  fear  and 
doubt  whether  I  shall  be  able  to  satisfy  this  noble  company  so 
well  in  what  I  have  to  say,  as  he  did  in  what  it  fell  to  him 
to  say.  Yet  to  make  myself  a  sharer  in  his  fame  as  far  as  I  can, 
and  to  be  sure  of  avoiding  this  one  mistake  at  least,  I  shall  con- 
tradict him  in  nothing. 

"Accepting  his  opinions  then,  and  among  others  his  opinion 
as  to  the  Courtier's  noble  birth,  capacities,  bodily  form  and 
grace  of  feature, —  I  say  that  to  win  praise  justly  and  good 
opinion  from  everyone  and  favour  from  the  princes  whom  he 
serves,  I  deem  it  necessary  for  the  Courtier  to  know  how  to  dis- 
pose his  whole  life,  and  to  make  the  most  of  his  good  qualities 
in  intercourse  with  all  men  everywhere,  without  exciting  envy 
thereby.  And  how  difficult  this  in  itself  is,  we  may  infer  from 
the  fewness  of  those  who  are  seen  to  reach  the  goal;  for  by 
nature  we  all  are  more  ready  to  censure  mistakes  than  to  praise 
things  well  done,  and  many  men,  from  a  kind  of  innate  malignity 
and  although  they  clearly  see  the  good,  seem  to  strive  with 
every  effort  and  pains  to  find  either  some  hidden  fault  in  us  or 
at  least  some  semblance  of  fault. 

"  Thus  it  is  needful  for  our  Courtier  to  be  cautious  in  his  every 
action,  and  always  to  mingle  good  sense  with  what  he  says  or 
does.  And  let  him  not  only  take  care  that  his  separate  parts 
and  qualities  are  excellent,  but  let  him  order  the  tenour  of  his 
life  in  such  fashion,  that  the  whole  may  be  in  keeping  with 
these  parts  and  be  seen  to  be  always  and  in  everything  ac- 
cordant with  his  own  self  and  form  one  single  body  of  all  these 
good  qualities;  so  that  his  every  act  may  be  the  result  and 
compound  of  all  his  faculties,  as  the  Stoics  say  is  the  duty  of 
him  who  is  wise. 

"  Still,  although  in  every  action  one  faculty  is  always  chief, 
yet  all  are  so  enlinked  together,  that  they  make  for  one  end  and 
may  all  further  and  serve  every  purpose.  Hence  he  must  know 
how  to  make  the  most  of  them,  and  by  means  of  contrast  and  as 
it  were  foil  to  the  one,  he  must  make  the  other  more  clearly 



seen; — like  good  painters,  who  display  and  show  forth  the  lights 
of  projecting  objects  by  the  use  of  shadow,  and  likewise  deepen 
the  shadows  of  flat  objects  by  means  of  light,  and  so  assemble 
their  divers  colours  that  both  the  one  and  the  other  are  better 
displayed  by  reason  of  that  diversity,  and  the  placing  of  figures 
in  opposition  one  to  another  aids  them  to  perform  that  office 
which  is  the  painter's  aim. 

"  Thus  gentleness  is  very  admirable  in  a  man  of  noble  birth 
who  is  valiant  and  strong.  And  as  his  boldness  seems  greater 
when  accompanied  by  modesty,  so  his  modesty  is  enhanced  and 
set  off  by  his  boldness.'"  Hence  to  speak  little,  to  do  much,  and 
not  to  boast  of  praiseworthy  deeds  but  to  conceal  them  tact- 
fully,—  enhances  both  these  attributes  in  the  case  of  one  who 
knows  how  to  employ  this  method  with  discretion;  and  so  it  is 
with  all  other  good  qualities. 

"  Therefore  in  what  our  Courtier  does  or  says  I  would  have 
him  follow  a  few  universal  rules,  which  I  think  comprise  briefly 
all  that  I  have  to  say.  And  for  the  first  and  most  important  let 
him  above  all  avoid  aff"ectation,  as  the  Count  rightly  advised  last 
evening.  Next  let  him  consider  well  what  thing  it  is  that  he  is 
doing  or  saying,  the  place  where  he  is  doing  it,  in  whose  pres- 
ence, the  cause  that  impels  him,  his  age,  his  profession,  the 
object  he  has  in  view,  and  the  means  that  may  conduce  thereto; 
and  so,  with  these  precautions  let  him  apply  himself  discreetly 
to  whatever  he  has  a  mind  to  do  or  say." 

8.— After  messer  Federico  had  spoken  thus,  he  seemed  to  pause 
a  little.     Whereupon  my  lord  Morello  da  Ortona  at  once  said: 

"These  rules  of  yours  teach  little,  it  seems  to  me;  and  for  my 
part  I  know  as  much  about  it  now,  as  I  did  before  you  pro- 
pounded them.  Still  I  remember  having  heard  them  several 
times  before  also  from  the  friars  to  whom  I  made  confession,  and 
who  called  them  *  the  circumstances,'  I  think." 

Then  messer  Federico  laughed  and  said: 

"  If  you  remember  rightly,  the  Count  declared  last  evening 
that  the  Courtier's  chief  business  should  be  that  of  arms,  and 
spoke  at  length  about  the  way  in  which  he  ought  to  practise  it; 
therefore  we  will  not  repeat  this.  Yet  among  our  rules  we  may 
also  lay  it  down  that  when  our  Courtier  finds  himself  in  a  skir- 

83  "^  " 


mish  or  action  or  battle,  or  in  other  such  affairs,  he  ought  to  ar- 
range discreetly  to  withdraw  from  the  crowd,  and  to  perform 
^hose  glorious  and  brave  deeds  that  he  has  to  do,  with  as  little 
company  as  he  can,  and  in  sight  of  all  the  noblest  and  most 
respected  men  in  the  army,  and  especially  in  the  presence  and 
Tif  it  is  possible)  before  the  very  eyes  of  his  king  or  of  the  prince 
whom  he  serves;  for  in  truth  it  is  very  proper  to  make  the  most 
of  one's  good  deeds.     And  I  think  that  just  as  it  is  wrong  to  seek 
"Jalse  and  unmerited  renown,  so  it  is  wrong  also  to  defraud  one- 
self of  the  honour  that  is  one's  due,  and  not  to  seek  that  praise 
which  alone  is  the  true  reward  of  worthy  effort. 

"And  I  remember  having  in  my  time  known  some  men  who 
were  very  stupid  in  this  regard,  although  valiant,  and  who  put 
their  lives  as  much  in  danger  to  capture  a  flock  of  sheep,  as 
to  be  the  first  to  scale  the  walls  of  a  beleaguered  town;  which 
our  Courtier  will  not  do  if  he  bears  in  mind  the  motive  that 
leads  him  into  war,  which  should  be  honour  only.  And  again 
if  he  happens  to  be  playing  at  arms  in  public  shows, — such  as 
jousts,  tourneys,  stick-throwing,  or  any  other  bodily  exercise, 
— mindful  of  the  place  and  presence  in  which  he  is,  he  will  con- 
trive to  be  not  less  elegant  and  graceful  than  unerring  with  his 
weapons,  and  to  feast  the  spectators'  eyes  with  all  those  things 
which  he  thinks  may  give  him  an  added  grace.  He  will  take 
care  that  his  horse  is  bravely  caparisoned,  that  his  attire  be- 
comes him,  that  his  mottoes  are  appropriate  and  his  devices 
clever,  so  that  they  may  attract  the  eyes  of  the  bystanders  as 
the  loadstone  attracts  iron.  He  will  never  be  among  the  last 
to  show  themselves,  knowing  that  the  crowd  and  especially 
women  gaze  much  more  attentively  upon  the  first  than  upon 
the  last;  for  their  eyes  and  minds,  which  at  the  start  are  eager 
for  novelty  and  observe  and  are  impressed  by  every  trifle,  are 
afterwards  not  only  sated  by  repetition  but  even  grow  weary. 
Thus  there  was  an  excellent  actor  of  ancient  times,  who  for 
this  reason  always  wished  to  be  the  first  to  perform  his  part 
in  the  play. 

"  So  too,  even  in  speaking  of  arms,  our  Courtier  will  have 
regard  to  the  profession  of  those  with  whom  he  converses,  and 
will  govern  himself  accordingly, — speaking  in  one  way  with  men 



and  in  another  way  with  women.  And  if  he  wishes  to  touch 
on  something  that  is  to  his  credit,  he  will  do  so  covertly,  as  if 
by  chance  in  passing,  and  with  the  discreetness  and  caution  that 
Count  Ludovico  expounded  to  us  yesterday. 

9.—"  Does  it  not  seem  to  you  now,  my  lord  Morello,  that  our 
rules  may  teach  something?  Does  it  not  seem  to  you  that  our 
friend,  of  whom  I  was  telling  you  a  few  days  since,  quite  forgot 
with  whom  and  why  he  was  speaking,  when  to  entertain  a  lady 
he  had  never  seen  before,  he  began  his  talk  by  telling  her  that 
he  had  slain  so  many  men,  and  that  he  was  a  terrible  fellow 
and  knew  how  to  handle  a  sword  with  both  hands?  Nor  did 
he  leave  her  until  he  had  tried  to  explain  to  her  how  certain 
blows  of  the  battle-axe  ought  to  be  parried  when  one  is  armed 
and  how  when  unarmed,  and  to  show  the  different  ways  of 
grasping  the  handle;  so  that  the  poor  soul  was  on  the  rack,  and 
thought  the  hour  seemed  a  thousand  years  before  she  could  send 
him  off,  almost  fearing  that  he  would  slay  her  like  the  others.  Such 
are  the  mistakes  committed  by  those  who  pay  no  regard  to  the 
'circumstances,'  of  which  you  say  you  heard  from  the  friars. 

"Next  I  say  that  of  bodily  exercises  there  are  some  that 
are  almost  never  practised  except  in  public, — such  as  jousts, 
tourneys,  stick-throwing,  and  all  the  rest  that  have  to  do  with 
arms.  Hence  when  our  Courtier  has  to  take  part  in  these, 
he  must  first  contrive  to  be  so  well  equipped  in  point  of  horses, 
weapons  and  dress,  that  he  lacks  nothing.  And  if  he  does  not 
feel  himself  well  provided  with  everything,  let  him  on  no  account 
engage,  for  if  he  fails  to  do  well,  the  excuse  cannot  be  made  that 
these  things  are  not  his  business.  Then  he  must  carefully  con- 
sider in  whose  presence  he  is  seen  and  of  what  sort  the  company 
is,  for  it  would  not  be  seemly  for  a  gentleman  to  honour  a  rustic 
festival  with  his  presence,  where  the  spectators  and  the  company 
are  of  low  degree." 

10.— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  Pallavicino  said: 

"  In  our  Lombard  country  we  do  not  make  these  distinctions. 
On  the  contrary,  there  are  many  young  gentlemen  who  dance 
all  day  with  peasants  in  the  sun  on  holidays,  and  play  with  them 
at  throwing  the  bar,  wrestling,  running  and  leaping.  And  I  do 
not  think  it  amiss,  for  there  the  rivalry  is  not  of  birth,  but  of 



strength  and  agility,  wherein  villagers  are  often  quite  a  match 
for  nobles;  and  this  condescension  seems  to  have  in  it  a  pleasant 
touch  of  generosity." 

Messer  Federico  replied: 

"This  dancing  of  yours  in  the  sun  pleases  me  not  in  any  way, 
nor  do  I  see  what  gain  there  is  in  it.  But  in  my  opinion  who- 
ever cares  to  wrestle  or  run  or  leap  with  peasants,  ought  to  do 
so  as  a  matter  of  practice  and  out  of  courtesy  as  we  say,  not  in 
rivalry  with  them.  And  a  man  ought  to  be  almost  sure  of  win- 
ning; else  let  him  not  engage,  because  it  is  too  unseemly  and 
shameful  a  thing,  and  beneath  his  dignity,  to  see  a  gentleman 
vanquished  by  a  peasant,  and  especially  at  wrestling.  Hence  I 
think  it  is  well  to  abstain,  at  least  in  the  presence  of  many,  for 
the  gain  of  beating  is  very  small  and  the  loss  of  being  beaten  is 
very  great. 

"  The  game  of  tennis  also  is  nearly  always  played  in  public, 
and  is  one  of  those  sports  to  which  a  crowd  lends  much  distinc- 
tion. Therefore  I  would  have  our  Courtier  practise  this,  and  all 
the  others  except  the  handling  of  arms,  as  something  that  is  not 
his  profession,  and  let  him  show  that  he  does  not  seek  or  expect 
praise  for  it,  nor  let  him  seem  to  devote  much  care  or  time  to  it, 
although  he  may  do  it  admirably.  Nor  let  him  be  like  some 
men  who  delight  in  music,  and  in  speaking  with  anyone  always 
begin  to  sing  under  their  breath  whenever  there  is  a  pause  in  the 
conversation.  Others  always  go  dancing  as  they  pass  through 
streets  and  churches.  Others,  when  they  meet  a  friend  in  the 
piazza  or  anywhere  else,  at  once  put  themselves  in  posture  as  if 
for  fencing  or  wrestling,  according  to  their  favourite  humour." 

Here  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  A  young  cardinal  we  have  in  Rome  does  better  than  that;  for 
out  of  pride  in  his  fine  bodily  frame,  he  conducts  into  his  garden 
all  who  come  to  visit  him  (even  although  he  has  never  seen 
them  before),  and  urgently  presses  them  to  strip  to  the  doublet 
and  try  a  turn  with  him  at  leaping." 

II.— Messer  Federico  laughed;  then  he  went  on: 

"  There  are  certain  other  exercises  that  can  be  practised  in 
public  and  in  private,  like  dancing;  and  in  this  I  think  the 
Courtier  ought  to  have  a  care,  for  when  dancing  in  the  presence 



of  many  and  in  a  place  full  of  people,  it  seems  to  me  that  he 
should  preserve  a  certain  dignity,  albeit  tempered  with  a  lithe 
and  airy  grace  of  movement;  and  although  he  may  feel  himself 
to  be  very  nimble  and  a  master  of  time  and  measure,  let  him  not 
attempt  those  agilities  of  foot  and  double  steps  which  we  find 
very  becoming  in  our  friend  Barletta,  but  which  perhaps  would 
be  little  suited  to  a  gentleman.  Yet  in  a  room  privately,  as  we 
are  now,  I  think  he  may  try  both,  and  may  dance  morris-dances 
and  brawls;"*  but  not  in  public  unless  he  be  masked,  when  it  is 
not  displeasing  even  though  he  be  recognized  by  all, 

"  Indeed  there  is  no  better  way  of  displaying  oneself  in  such 
matters  at  public  sports,  either  armed  or  unarmed;  because  dis- 
guise carries  with  it  a  certain  freedom  and  licence,  which 
among  other  things  enable  a  man  to  choose  a  part  for  which  he 
feels  himself  qualified,  and  to  use  care  and  elaboration  upon  the 
chief  point  of  the  thing  wherein  he  would  display  himself,  and  a 
certain  nonchalance  as  to  that  which  does  not  count, — which 
greatly  enhances  the  charm:  as  for  a  youth  to  array  himself 
like  an  old  man,  yet  in  easy  dress  so  as  to  be  able  to  show  his 
vigour;  a  cavalier  in  the  guise  of  a  rustic  shepherd  or  some 
other  like  costume,  but  with  a  perfect  horse  and  gracefully  be- 
decked in  character; — because  the  mind  of  the  spectators  is 
quick  to  fill  out  the  image  of  that  which  is  presented  to  the  eyes 
at  first  glance;  and  then  seeing  the  thing  turn  out  much  better 
than  the  costume  promised,  they  are  amused  and  delighted. 

"  But  in  these  sports  and  shows  where  masks  are  worn,  it  would 
not  be  seemly  for  a  prince  to  try  to  enact  the  part  of  a  prince,  be- 
cause that  pleasure  which  the  spectators  find  in  novelty  would  be 
in  great  measure  lacking,  since  it  is  news  to  no  one  that  the  prince 
is  the  prince;  and  he,  conscious  that  besides  being  the  prince  he 
is  trying  to  play  the  prince,  loses  the  freedom  to  do  all  those 
things  that  are  beneath  a  prince's  dignity.  And  if  there  were 
any  contest  in  these  sports,  especially  with  arms,  he  might  even 
make  men  think  that  he  chose  to  impersonate  a  prince  in  order 
not  to  be  beaten  but  spared  by  others;  moreover  were  he  to  do 
in  sport  the  same  that  it  behooves  him  to  do  in  earnest  upon  oc- 
casion, he  would  deprive  his  own  proper  action  of  dignity,  and 
make  it  almost  seem  as  if  that  too  were  sport.    But  at  such 



times,  if  the  prince  lays  aside  his  character  of  prince,  and  mingles 
equally  with  his  inferiors  yet  in  such  fashion  as  to  be  recogniz- 
able, by  renouncing  his  own  rank  he  attains  a  higher  one,  in  that 
he  prefers  to  excel  the  rest  not  by  authority  but  by  merit,  and  to 
show  that  his  worth  is  not  enhanced  by  the  fact  that  he  is  a 

12.—"  I  say  then  that  in  these  martial  sports  the  Courtier  ought 
to  use  the  like  discretion,  according  to  his  rank.  In  horseback 
vaulting  too,  in  wrestling,  running  and  leaping,  I  should  be  well 
pleased  to  have  him  shun  the  vulgar  crowd,  or  at  most  let  him- 
self be  very  rarely  seen;  for  there  is  not  on  earth  a  thing  so  ex- 
cellent but  the  ignorant  will  tire  of  it  and  hold  it  of  small  account, 
if  they  see  it  often. 

"As  to  music  I  hold  the  same  opinion:  hence  I  would  not 
have  our  Courtier  behave  like  many,  who  are  no  sooner  come 
anywhere  (even  into  the  presence  of  gentlemen  w^ith  whom  they 
have  no  acquaintance),  than  without  waiting  to  be  urged  they 
set  about  doing  what  they  know  and  often  what  they  do  not 
know;  so  that  it  seems  as  if  they  had  come  only  for  the  purpose 
of  showing  themselves,  and  had  that  for  their  chief  profession. 
Therefore  let  the  Courtier  resort  to  music  as  a  pastime  and  almost 
unwillingly,  and  not  before  vulgar  people  nor  very  many.  And 
although  he  may  know  and  understand  that  which  he  is  doing, 
in  this  too  I  would  have  him  hide  the  study  and  pains  that  are 
necessary  in  everything  one  would  do  well,  and  seem  to  value 
this  accomplishment  lightly  in  himself,  but  by  practising  it 
admirably  make  others  value  it  highly." 

13 — Then  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino  said: 

"  There  are  many  kinds  of  music,  vocal  as  well  as  instrumen- 
tal: therefore  I  should  like  to  hear  which  is  the  best  of  all,  and 
at  what  time  the  Courtier  ought  to  perform  it.'"** 

Messer  Federico  replied: 

"  I  regard  as  beautiful  music,  to  sing  well  by  note,  with  ease 
and  in  beautiful  style;  but  as  even  far  more  beautiful,  to  sing  to 
the  accompaniment  of  the  viol,"*  because  nearly  all  the  sweet- 
ness lies  in  the  solo  part,  and  we  note  and  observe  the  fine 
manner  and  the  melody  with  much  greater  attention  when  our 
ears  are  not  occupied  with  more  than  a  single  voice,  and  more- 















0^24 fif-  <le  OCr^^U^  f^t'-^c^ 



-MuronrUA  dtOonzAtof 

4-CAn(r  -M 

3  to  me  ir^ 

M  • 

•:    to    : 

a  man  of  any 

^'l:  ni  I  .1  loos'ci  yd  t>/is  iaiai<?  t'  »bmm  ,m»vUm%tn  moti 

vibaiiitvIA  -'jiijig  .liJ-ji'A'J   rrf)   <J  tsjsilsK  ba«  autaaM  }■  MviitnA  state  Uyoii 


"  My  Lady  Duchess  " 

'My  Lady  Emilia" 

"  Madonna  Margarita" 

"My  Lord  Prefect" 

"  My  Lord  Magnifico  " 


From  negatives,  made  by  Premi  and  by  Signer  Lanzoni,  from  originals  preserved  in  the 
Royal  State  Archives  at  Mantua  and  selected  by  the  Director,  Signer  Alessandro 


over  every  little  fault  is  more  clearly  discerned, — which  is  not 
the  case  when  several  sing  together,  because  each  singer  helps 
his  neighbour.  But  above  all,  singing  to  the  viol  by  way  of 
recitative  seems  to  me  most  delightful,  which  adds  to  the  words 
a  charm  and  grace  that  are  very  admirable, 

"  All  keyed  instruments  also  are  pleasing  to  the  ear,  because 
they  produce  very  perfect  consonances,  and  upon  them  one  can 
play  many  things  that  fill  the  mind  with  musical  delight.  And 
not  less  charming  is  the  music  of  the  stringed  quartet,  which  is 
most  sweet  and  exquisite.  The  human  voice  lends  much  orna- 
ment and  grace  to  all  these  instruments,  with  which  I  would 
have  our  Courtier  at  least  to  some  degree  acquainted,  albeit  the 
more  he  excels  with  them,  the  better, — without  troubling  himself 
much  with  those  that  Minerva  forbade  to  Alcibiades,  because  it 
seems  that  they  are  ungraceful."' 

"  Then,  as  to  the  time  for  enjoying  these  various  kinds  of 
music,  I  think  it  is  whenever  a  man  finds  himself  in  familiar  and 
beloved  companionship  and  there  are  not  other  occupations. 
But  above  all  it  is  fitting  where  ladies  are  present,  because  their 
aspect  fills  the  listener's  heart  with  sweetness,  renders  it  more 
sensitive  to  the  tenderness  of  the  music,  and  quickens  the  mu- 
sician's soul. 

"As  I  have  already  said,  it  pleases  me  well  that  we  should 
avoid  the  crowd,  and  especially  the  ignoble  crowd.  But  discre- 
tion must  needs  be  the  spice  of  everything,  for  it  would  be  quite 
impossible  to  foresee  all  the  cases  that  occur;  and  if  the  Cour- 
tier rightly  understands  himself,  he  will  adapt  himself  to  the 
occasion  and  will  perceive  when  the  minds  of  his  hearers  are 
disposed  to  listen  and  when  not.  He  will  take  his  own  age  into 
account:  for  it  is  indeed  unseemly  and  unlovely  in  the  extreme 
to  see  a  man  of  any  quality, — old,  hoary  and  toothless,  full  of 
wrinkles, — playing  on  a  viol  and  singing  in  the  midst  of  a  com- 
pany of  ladies,  even  though  he  be  a  passable  performer.  And 
the  reason  of  this  is  that  in  singing  the  words  are  usually  amour- 
ous,  and  love  is  a  ridiculous  thing  in  old  men, — albeit  it  is  some- 
times pleased  among  its  other  miracles  to  kindle  frozen  hearts 
in  spite  of  years." 

I4-— Then  the  Magnifico  replied: 


"Do  not  deprive  old  men  of  this  pleasure,  messer  Federico; 
for  in  my  time  I  have  known  old  men  who  had  right  perfect 
voices  and  hands  very  dexterous  upon  their  instruments,  far 
more  than  some  young  men." 

"  I  do  not  wish,"  said  messer  Federico,  "  to  deprive  old  men  of 
this  pleasure,  but  I  do  wish  to  deprive  you  and  these  ladies  of 
the  pleasure  of  laughing  at  such  folly.  And  if  old  men  wish  to 
sing  to  the  viol,  let  them  do  so  in  secret  and  only  to  drive  from 
their  minds  those  painful  thoughts  and  grievous  troubles  with 
which  our  life  is  filled,  and  to  taste  that  rapture  which  I  believe 
Pythagoras  and  Socrates  found  in  music. "^  And  even  although 
they  practise  it  not,  by  somewhat  accustoming  their  minds  to  it 
they  will  enjoy  it  far  more  when  they  hear  it  than  a  man  who 
knows  nothing  of  it.  For  just  as  the  arms  of  a  smith,  who  is 
weak  in  his  other  members,  become  stronger  by  exercise  than 
those  of  another  man  who  is  more  robust  but  unaccustomed  to 
use  his  arms, — in  like  manner  ears  practised  in  harmony  will 
perceive  it  better  and  more  speedily  and  will  appreciate  it  with 
far  greater  pleasure,  than  others,  however  good  and  sharp  they 
be,  that  are  not  versed  in  the  varieties  of  musical  consonance; 
because  these  modulations  do  not  penetrate  ears  unused  to 
hearing  them,  but  pass  aside  without  leaving  any  savour  of 
themselves;  albeit  even  the  beasts  have  some  enjoyment  in 

"  This  then  is  the  pleasure  it  is  fitting  old  men  should  take  in 
music.  I  say  the  like  of  dancing,  for  in  truth  we  ought  to  give 
up  these  exercises  before  our  age  forces  us  to  give  them  up 
against  our  will." 

Here  my  lord  Morello  replied  with  a  little  heat: 

"  So  it  is  better  to  exclude  all  old  men,  and  to  say  that  only 
young  men  have  a  right  to  be  called  Courtiers." 

Then  messer  Federico  laughed,  and  said: 

"  You  see,  my  lord  Morello,  that  they  who  like  these  things 
strive  to  seem  young  when  they  are  not,  and  hence  they  dye 
their  hair  and  shave  twice  a  week.""  And  this  is  because  nature 
silently  tells  them  that  such  things  are  proper  only  to  the 

All  the  ladies  laughed,  for  each  one  of  them  felt  that  these 



words  fitted  my  lord  Morello;  and  he  seemed  rather  stung  by 
them.     Messer  Federico  soon  continued: 

15.—"  But  there  are  many  other  ways  of  entertaining  ladies 
that  are  proper  to  old  men." 

«'  What  are  they?"  said  my  lord  Morello.     "Telling  stories?" 

"  That  is  one,"  replied  messer  Federico.  "  But  as  you  know, 
every  age  brings,  its  own  thoughts  with  it,  and  has  some  peculiar 
virtue  and  some  peculiar  vice.  Thus,  while  old  men  are  ordina- 
rily more  prudent  than  young  men,  more  continent  and  wiser, 
so  too  they  are  more  garrulous,  miserly,  querulous  and  timid; 
they  are  always  scolding  about  the  house,  harsh  to  their  chil- 
dren, and  wish  everyone  to  follow  their  way.  And  on  the  con- 
trary young  men  are  spirited,  generous,  frank,  but  prone  to 
quarrel,  voluble,  loving  and  hating  in  an  instant,  eager  in  all 
their  pleasures,  unfriendly  to  him  who  counsels  well. 

"  But  of  all  ages,  that  of  manhood  is  the  most  temperate, 
because  it  has  left  the  faults  of  youth  behind  and  has  not  yet 
reached  those  of  old  age.  Being  placed  then  at  the  two  ex- 
tremes, young  and  old  must  needs  learn  from  reason  how  to  cor- 
rect the  faults  that  nature  implants  in  them.  Thus,  old  men 
ought  to  guard  against  much  self-praise  and  the  other  evil 
habits  that  we  have  said  are  peculiar  to  them,  and  to  use  that 
prudence  and  knowledge  which  they  have  gained  from  long 
experience,  and  to  be  like  oracles  consulted  of  all  men;  and  in 
telling  what  they  know,  they  ought  to  have  the  grace  to  speak 
to  the  point  and  temper  the  gravity  of  their  years  with  a  certain 
mild  and  sportive  humour.  In  this  way  they  will  be  good  Cour- 
tiers, enjoy  their  intercourse  with  men  and  with  ladies,  and  be 
always  welcome, — without  singing  or  dancing;  and  when  need 
arises  they  will  display  their  worth  in  affairs  of  importance. 

16.—"  Let  young  men  use  this  same  care  and  judgment,  not  in- 
deed in  copying  old  men's  ways, — for  that  which  befits  the  one 
would  not  at  all  befit  the  other,  and  we  are  wont  to  say  that 
over  wisdom  is  a  bad  sign  in  the  young, — ^but  in  correcting  their 
own  natural  faults.  Hence  I  greatly  like  to  see  a  youth,  and 
especially  when  handling  weapons,  who  has  a  touch  of  the 
grave  and  taciturn;  who  is  master  of  himself,  without  those  rest- 
less manners  which  are  often  seen  at  that  age;  because  such 



youths  seem  to  have  a  certain  something  in  them  above  the  rest. 
Moreover  this  quietness  of  manner  has  in  it  a  kind  of  impressive 
boldness,  because  it  seems  the  result  not  of  anger  but  of  judg- 
ment, and  governed  more  by  reason  than  by  passion.  This 
is  nearly  always  found  in  all  men  of  high  courage,  and  we  see  it 
also  among  those  brute  animals  that  have  more  nobility  and 
strength  than  their  fellows, — as  in  the  lion  and  the  eagle. 

"  Nor  is  this  strange;  for  an  impetuous  and  sudden  movement, 
— which  without  words  or  other  signs  of  wrath  abruptly  bursts 
with  all  its  force  at  once  from  the  quiet  that  is  its  contrary,  as  it 
were  like  the  discharge  of  a  cannon,— is  far  more  violent  and 
furious  than  that  which  increases  by  degrees  and  grows  hotter 
little  by  little.  Therefore  they  who  talk  much  and  move  about 
and  cannot  stand  still,  when  they  have  an  enterprise  on  foot, 
seem  thus  to  exhaust  their  powers;  and  as  our  friend  messer  Pietro 
Monte  well  says,  they  act  like  boys  who  sing  from  fear  when  they 
walk  at  night,  as  if  to  keep  up  their  courage  by  their  singing. 

"Again,  just  as  calm  and  thoughtful  youthfulness  is  very 
praiseworthy  in  a  young  man,  because  the  levity  which  is  the 
fault  peculiar  to  his  age  seems  to  be  tempered  and  corrected, — 
so  in  an  old  man  a  green  and  lively  old  age  is  to  be  highly 
esteemed,  because  his  stoutness  of  heart  seems  to  be  so  great  as 
to  warm  and  strengthen  his  feeble  and  chill  years,  and  to  keep 
him  in  that  middle  state  which  is  the  best  part  of  our  life. 

17 — "  But  in  brief  not  even  all  these  qualities  in  our  Courtier 
will  suffice  to  win  universal  favour  of  lords,  cavaliers  and  ladies, 
unless  he  has  also  a  gentle  and  amiable  manner  in  daily  talk. 
And  I  verily  believe  it  to  be  difficult  to  give  any  rule  for  this, 
because  of  the  infinite  variety  of  things  that  arise  in  conversa- 
tion, and  because  among  all  the  men  on  earth  no  two  are  found 
who  have  minds  quite  alike.  So  whoever  has  to  prepare  him- 
self for  conversation  with  many,  must  needs  be  guided  by  his 
own  judgment,  and  distinguishing  the  differences  between  one 
man  and  another,  must  daily  change  his  style  and  method 
according  to  the  character  of  the  person  with  whom  he  has  to 
converse.  Nor  could  I  for  my  part  give  other  rules  in  this 
matter  than  those  already  given,  which  our  friend  my  lord 
Morello  has  learned  at  the  confessional  from  his  youth  up." 



Here  my  lady  Emilia  laughed,  and  said: 

"  You  shirk  labour  too  much,  messer  Federico,  But  you 
shall  not  succeed,  for  you  must  talk  on  until  it  is  time  to  go  to 

"And  what,  my  Lady,  if  I  have  nothing  to  say?"  replied 
messer  Federico. 

"  There  you  shall  show  your  wit,"  said  my  lady  Emilia.  "And 
if  what  I  once  heard  be  true,  that  there  was  a  man  so  clever  and 
eloquent  that  he  did  not  lack  material  to  write  a  book  in  praise 
of  a  fly,  others  in  praise  of  the  fourth  day  ague,  and  another  in 
praise  of  baldness, — will  you  also  not  have  the  courage  to  find 
something  to  say  about  Courtiership  for  one  evening?""" 

"  We  have  already  said  enough  about  it  to  make  two  books," 
replied  messer  Federico.  "  But  since  my  excuse  is  of  no  avail,  I 
w^ill  talk  until  you  think  I  have  fulfilled,  if  not  my  duty,  at  least 
the  limit  of  my  powers. 

i8.— "I  think  that  the  conversation  which  the  Courtier  ought 
most  to  try  in  every  way  to  make  acceptable,  is  that  which  he 
holds  with  his  prince;  and  although  this  word  'conversation' 
implies  a  certain  equality  that  seems  impossible  between  a  lord 
and  his  inferior,  yet  we  will  call  it  so  for  the  present.  Therefore, 
besides  daily  showing  everyone  that  he  possesses  the  worth  we 
have  already  described,  I  would  have  the  Courtier  strive,  with 

iall  the  thoughts  and  forces  of  his  mind,  to  love  and  almost  to 
adore  the  prince  whom  he  serves,  above  every  other  thing,  and 
mould  his  wishes,  habits  and  all  his  ways  to  his  prince's  liking." 

Without  waiting  for  more,  Pietro  da  Napoli  here  said: 

"We  already  have  enough  Courtiers  of  this  kind,  for  methinks 
you  have  in  a  few  words  described  for  us  a  noble  flatterer." 

"You  are  much  in  errour,"  replied  messer  Federico;  "for 
flatterers  love  neither  their  prince  nor  their  friends,  which  I  tell 
you  I  wish  chiefly  in  our  Courtier. 

"Moreover  it  is  possible  without  flattery  to  obey  and  further 
the  wishes  of  him  we  serve,  for  I  am  speaking  of  those  wishes 
that  are  reasonable  and  right,  or  of  those  that  in  themselves  are 
neither  good  nor  evil,  such  as  would  be  a  liking  for  play  or  a  de- 
votion to  one  kind  of  exercise  above  another.  And  I  would  have 
the  Courtier  bend  himself  to  this  even  if  he  be  by  nature  alien  to  it,. 



so  that  on  seeing  him  his  lord  shall  always  feel  that  he  will  have 
something  agreeable  to  say;  which  will  come  about  if  he  has  the 
good  judgment  to  perceive  what  his  prince  likes,  and  the  wit  and 
prudence  to  bend  himself  thereto,  and  a  deliberate  purpose  to 
like  that  which  perhaps  he  by  nature  dislikes.  And  adopting 
these  precautions,  he  will  never  be  out  of  humour  or  melancholy 
before  his  prince,  nor  so  taciturn  as  many  are  who  seem  to  bear 
a  grudge  against  their  patrons,  which  is  a  truly  odious  thing. 
He  will  not  be  given  to  evil  speaking,  especially  against  his 
own  lords;  which  often  happens,  for  in  courts  there  seems  to 
rage  a  fury'"  of  such  sort  that  those  who  have  been  most  fa- 
voured by  their  lord  and  have  been  raised  to  eminence  from 
the  lowest  state,  are  always  complaining  and  speaking  ill  of 
him;  which  is  unseemly  not  only  in  such  as  these,  but  even  in 
those  who  chance  to  have  been  ill  used, 

"Our  Courtier  will  show  no  foolish  presumption;  he  will  not 
be  a  bearer  of  evil  tidings;  he  will  not  be  thoughtless  in  some- 
times saying  things  that  offend  instead  of  pleasing  as  he  intends. 
He  will  not  be  obstinate  and  disputatious,  as  some  are  who 
seem  to  delight  in  nothing  but  to  be  troublesome  and  disagreeable 
like  flies,  and  who  make  a  point  of  spitefully  contradicting  every- 
one without  discrimination.  He  will  not  be  an  idle  or  untruth- 
ful tattler,  nor  a  boaster  nor  pointless  flatterer,  but  modest  and 
reserved,  always  and  especially  in  public  showing  that  reverence 
and  respect  which  befit  the  servant  towards  the  master;  and  he 
will  not  behave  like  many,  who  on  meeting  any  great  prince, 
with  whom  if  only  they  have  spoken  but  once,  press  forward 
with  a  certain  smiling  and  friendly  look,  as  if  they  "wished  to 
caress  an  equal  or  show  favour  to  an  inferior. 

"  He  will  very  rarely  or  almost  never  ask  anything  of  his  lord 
for  himself,  lest  his  lord,  being  reluctant  to  deny  it  to  him 
directly,  may  sometimes  grant  it  with  an  ill  grace,  which  is 
much  worse.  Even  in  asking  for  others  he  will  choose  his  time 
discreetly  and  ask  proper  and  reasonable  things;  and  he  will  so 
frame  his  request,  by  omitting  what  he  knows  may  displease  and 
by  skilfully  doing  away  with  difficulties,  that  his  lord  shall  al- 
ways grant  it,  or  shall  not  think  him  offended  by  refusal  even  if 
it  be  denied;  for  when  lords  have  denied  a  favour  to  an  importu- 



nate  suitor,  they  often  reflect  that  he  who  asked  it  with  such 
eagerness,  must  have  desired  it  greatly,  and  so  having  failed  to 
obtain  it,  must  feel  ill  will  towards  him  who  denied  it;  and  be- 
lieving this,  they  begin  to  hate  the  man  and  can  never  more  look 
upon  him  with  favour. 

ig-— "  He  will  not  seek  to  intrude  unasked  into  his  master's 
chamber  or  private  retreats,  even  though  he  be  of  great  conse- 
quence; for  when  great  lords  are  in  private,  they  often  like  a 
little  liberty  to  say  and  do  what  they  please,  and  do  not  wish  to 
be  seen  or  heard  by  any  who  may  criticise  them;  and  it  is  very 
proper.  Hence  I  think  those  men  do  ill  who  blame  great  lords 
for  consorting  privately  with  persons  who  are  of  little  worth 
save  in  matters  of  personal  service,  for  I  do  not  see  why  lords 
should  not  have  the  same  freedom  to  relax  their  minds  that  we 
fain  would  have  to  relax  ours.  But  if  a  Courtier  accustomed  to 
deal  with  important  matters,  chances  to  find  himself  in  private 
with  his  lord,  he  must  put  on  another  face,  postpone  grave  con- 
cerns to  another  place  and  time,  and  give  the  conversation  a 
cast  that  shall  amuse  and  please  his  lord,  so  as  not  to  disturb 
that  repose  of  mind  of  which  I  speak. 

"  In  this  however,  as  in  everything  else,  let  him  above  all  take 
care  not  to  weary  his  lord,  and  let  him  wait  for  favours  to  be 
offered  him  rather  than  angle  for  them  so  openly  as  many  do, 
who  are  so  greedy  that  it  seems  as  if  they  must  die  if  they  do  not 
get  what  they  seek;  and  if  they  happen  to  meet  any  disfavour 
or  to  see  others  favoured,  they  suffer  such  anguish  that  they  can 
in  no  wise  hide  their  envy.  Thus  they  make  everyone  laugh  at 
them,  and  often  are  the  cause  that  leads  their  master  to  bestow 
favour  on  the  first  comer  simply  to  spite  them.  Then  again,  if 
they  find  themselves  in  at  all  more  than  common  favour,  they 
become  so  intoxicated  by  it  that  they  stand  palsied'"'  with  joy, 
and  seem  not  to  know  what  to  do  with  their  hands  and  feet,  and 
they  can  hardly  keep  from  calling  on  the  company  to  come  and 
see  and  congratulate  them  as  upon  something  to  which  they  are 
quite  unused. 

"  Of  such  sort  I  would  not  have  our  Courtier.  I  am  quite 
willing  that  he  should  like  favours,  but  not  that  he  should  value 
them  so  highly  as  to  seem  unable  to  do  without  them.     And 



when  he  receives  them,  let  him  not  seem  unused  or  strange  to 
them,  or  marvel  that  they  are  offered  him;  nor  let  him  refuse 
them,  as  some  do  who  refrain  from  accepting  them  out  of  mere 
ignorance,  and  thus  seem  to  the  bystanders  to  be  conscious  of 
not  deserving  them. 

"  Yet  a  man  ought  always  to  be  a  little  more  backward  than 
his  rank  warrants;  to  accept  not  too  readily  the  favours  and  hon- 
ours that  are  offered  him;  and  to  refuse  them  modestly,  showing 
that  he  values  them  highly,  yet  in  such  fashion  as  to  give  the 
donor  cause  to  offer  them  again  with  far  more  urgency.  For 
the  greater  the  reluctance  with  which  they  are  accepted,  the 
more  highly  will  the  prince  who  gives  them  think  himself  es- 
teemed, and  the  benefit  that  he  bestows  will  seem  the  greater, 
the  more  the  recipient  seems  to  prize  it  and  to  hold  himself  hon- 
oured by  it.  Moreover  these  are  the  true  and  solid  favours  that 
make  a  man  esteemed  by  those  who  see  him  from  without ;  for, 
being  unsought,  they  are  assumed  by  everyone  to  be  the  reward 
of  true  worth,  the  more  so  when  they  are  accompanied  by 

20 — Then  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"Methinks  you  have  stolen  this  passage  from  the  Evangelist, 
where  he  says:  'When  thou  art  bidden  to  a  wedding,  go  and  sit 
down  in  the  lowest  room;  that  when  he  that  bade  thee  com- 
eth,  he  may  say:  Friend,  go  up  higher:  and  thus  shalt  thou 
have  honour  in  the  presence  of  them  that  sit  at  meat  with 

Messer  Federico  laughed,  and  said: 

"It  were  too  great  sacrilege  to  steal  from  the  Evangelist;  but 
you  are  more  learned  in  Holy  Writ  than  I  thought;"  then  he 
went  on:  "You  see  what  great  danger  those  men  sometimes  run 
who  boldly  begin  conversation  before  a  lord  without  being  in- 
vited; and  to  put  them  down,  the  lord  often  makes  no  reply  and 
turns  his  head  another  way,  and  even  if  he  replies  to  them, 
everyone  sees  that  he  does  it  with  an  ill  grace. 

"To  have  the  favour  of  princes,  then,  there  is  no  better  way 
than  to  deserve  it.  And  when  we  see  another  man  who  is 
pleasing  to  a  prince  for  any  reason,  we  must  not  think  to  reach 
the  same  height  ourselves  by  imitating  him,  for  all  things  are 








Prom  negatives,  made  by  Premi  and  by  Signor  Lantoni,  from  originals  preserved  in  the 
Royal  State  Archives  at  Mantua  and  selected  by  the  Director,  Signor  Alessandro 

a  to  be  the  n 

■m  the  Evan 

'jswaa  f 

<>cijOvuco    (^-^**/7/L 

2u*vi^*    Hoi^i* 


'  Litr 


not  proper  to  all  men.  Thus  there  will  sometimes  be  found  a 
man  who  by  nature  is  so  ready  at  jesting  that  whatever  he  may 
say  carries  laughter  with  it,  and  he  seems  to  have  been  born 
solely  for  that;  and  if  another  man,  who  has  a  sober  habit  of 
mind  (however  excellently  endowed)  tries  to  do  the  like,  it  will 
fall  so  cold  and  flat  as  to  disgust  those  who  hear  him,  and  he 
will  prove  exactly  like  that  ass  who  tried  to  copy  the  dog  by 
frolicking  with  their  master."*  Hence  every  man  must  under- 
stand himself  and  his  own  powers,  and  govern  himself  accord- 
ingly, and  consider  what  things  he  ought  to  imitate,  and  what 
things  he  ought  not." 

21.— Here  Vincenzo  Calmeta  said: 

"  Before  you  go  on,  if  I  heard  aright  I  think  you  said  awhile 
ago  that  the  best  way  to  win  favours  is  to  deserve  them,  and 
that  the  Courtier  ought  to  wait  for  them  to  be  offered  him 
rather  than  ask  for  them  presumptuously.  I  greatly  fear  this 
rule  is  little  to  the  purpose,  and  I  think  experience  very  clearly 
teaches  us  the  contrary.  For  to-day  very  few  are  favoured  by 
their  lords,  save  the  presumptuous;  and  I  know  you  can  give 
good  testimony  as  to  some,  who  on  finding  themselves  in  small 
favour  with  their  princes,  have  made  themselves  acceptable  solely 
by  their  presumption.  While  as  for  those  who  have  risen 
through  modesty,  I  for  my  part  do  not  know  any,  and  I  even 
give  you  time  to  think  about  it  and  believe  you  will  find  few. 
And  if  you  consider  the  court  of  France,  which  is  to-day  one  of, 
the  noblest  in  Christendom,  you  will  find  that  all  men  who  have 
universal  favour  there  are  somewhat  presumptuous,  and  not  only 
towards  one  another  but  towards  the  king  himself." 

"•Now  do  not  say  that,"  replied  messer  Federico ;  •'  for  in  France 
there  are  very  modest  and  courteous  gentlemen.  It  is  true  that 
they  behave  with  a  certain  freedom  and  unceremonious  famili- 
arity, which  are  proper  and  natural  to  them;  and  therefore  it 
ought  not  to  be  called  presumption,  because  in  this  very  man- 
ner of  theirs,  whilst  they  deride  and  make  sport  of  the  pre- 
sumptuous, yet  they  rate  highly  those  who  seem  to  them  to 
have  worth  and  modesty." 

Calmeta  replied: 

"  Look  at  the  Spaniards,  who  it  seems  are  our  masters  in 



Courtiership,  and  consider  how  many  you  will  find  who  are 
not  very  presumptuous  with  ladies  and  with  gentlemen;  and 
even  more  so  than  the  French,  because  at  first  sight  they  show 
the  greatest  modesty.  And  in  this  they  are  truly  clever,  for  as  I 
said,  the  princes  of  our  time  all  favour  only  those  who  have  such 

22.— Then  messer  Federico  replied: 

"  I  will  by  no  means  suffer  you,  messer  Vincenzo,  to  cast  this 
reproach  upon  the  princes  of  our  time.  For  indeed  there  are 
also  many  who  love  modesty,  which  I  do  not  however  say  alone 
suffices  to  make  a  man  acceptable;  but  I  do  say  that  when 
united  to  high  worth,  it  greatly  honours  its  possessor.  And  al- 
though it  be  silent  about  itself,  praiseworthy  deeds  speak  aloud 
and  are  far  more  admirable  than  if  they  were  accompanied  by 
presumption  and  rashness.  I  will  not  indeed  deny  that  there  are 
many  presumptuous  Spaniards,  but  I  say  that  those  who  are 
much  esteemed  are  as  a  rule  very  modest. 

"  Again,  there  are  also  some  men  who  are  so  reserved  that 
they  shun  human  company  beyond  reason,  and  so  far  exceed  a 
certain  limit  of  moderation  that  they  come  to  be  regarded  as 
either  too  timid  or  too  proud.  For  these  I  have  no  praise,  nor 
would  I  have  modesty  so  dry  and  arid  as  to  become  clownish- 
ness;  but  let  the  Courtier  be  fluent  on  occasion,  and  prudent  and 
sagacious  in  discussing  statecraft,  and  let  him  have  the  good 
sense  to  adapt  himself  to  the  customs  of  the  nations  where  he 
finds  himself;  then  in  lesser  matters  let  him  be  agreeable  and 
speak  well  about  everything. 

"But  above  all,  he  should  make  for  right;  not  envious,  not 
evil-tongued:  nor  let  him  ever  bring  himself  to  seek  grace  or  fa- 
vour by  foul  ways  or  dishonourable  means." 

Then  Calmeta  said: 

"  I  assure  you  that  all  other  ways  are  more  uncertain  and 
longer  than  this  one  which  you  censure.  For  to  repeat,  princes 
at  the  present  day  love  only  those  who  tread  that  path." 

"  Say  not  so,"  then  replied  messer  Federico,  "  for  that  would 
be  too  clear  an  argument  that  the  princes  of  our  time  are  all 
vicious  and  wicked, — which  is  not  true,  since  several  good  ones 
are  to  be  found.    But  if  our  Courtier  should  chance  to  find  him- 



self  in  the  service  of  one  who  is  vicious  and  malign,  let  him 
depart  as  soon  as  he  discovers  it,  lest  he  suffer  that  keen  anguish 
which  all  good  men  feel  who  serve  the  wicked," 

"  We  must  needs  pray  God,"  replied  Calmeta,  "  to  send  us 
good  masters,  for  when  we  have  them,  we  are  forced  to  endure 
them  such  as  they  are;  because  an  infinity  of  reasons  constrain 
a  gentleman  not  to  leave  the  patron  he  has  once  begun  to  serve; 
but  the  misfortune  consists  in  beginning  to  serve  a  bad  patron, 
and  Courtiers  in  this  condition  are  like  those  unhappy  birds  that 
are  hatched  in  a  gloomy  valley." 

"  It  seems  to  me,"  said  messer  Federico,  "that  duty  ought  to 
outweigh  all  other  reasons.  And  provided  a  gentleman  does  not 
leave  his  patron  when  at  war  or  in  adversity, — lest  he  be 
thought  to  have  done  so  to  better  his  fortunes  or  because  he 
feared  that  he  might  lack  opportunity  for  gain, — I  think  that  at 
any  other  time  he  rightly  may  and  ought  to  leave  a  service  that 
is  like  to  disgrace  him  before  all  good  men;  for  everyone  as- 
sumes that  whoever  serves  the  good  is  good,  and  that  whoever 
serves  the  wicked  is  wicked." 

23 — Then  my  lord  Ludovico  Pio  said: 

"  I  should  like  to  have  you  clear  a  doubt  that  is  in  my  mind; 
that  is,  whether  a  gentleman  in  the  service  of  a  prince  is  bound 
to  obey  him  in  all  things  that  he  commands,  even  if  they  be  dis- 
honourable and  infamous." 

"  In  dishonourable  things  we  are  not  bound  to  obey  any  man," 
replied  messer  Federico. 

"  And  how,"  returned  my  lord  Ludovico,  "  if  I  am  in  the  ser- 
vice of  a  prince  who  uses  me  well  and  trusts  to  my  doing  for 
him  all  that  can  be  done,  commanding  me  to  go  kill  a  man  or  do 
anything  else  you  please, — ought  I  to  refuse  to  do  it?" 

"  You  ought,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  to  obey  your  lord  in 
all  things  that  are  advantageous  and  honourable  to  him,  not  in 
those  that  bring  him  injury  and  disgrace.  Therefore  if  he  were 
to  command  you  to  commit  an  act  of  treachery,  not  only  would 
you  not  be  bound  to  do  it,  but  you  would  be  bound  not  to  do  it, — 
both  for  your  own  sake  and  for  the  sake  of  not  being  a  minister 
to  your  lord's  disgrace.  True  it  is  that  many  things  which  are 
evil  seem  at  first  sight  good,  and  many  seem  evil  and  yet  are 



good.  Hence  in  our  lords'  service  it  is  sometimes  permitted  to 
kill  not  one  man  but  ten  thousand,  and  to  do  many  other  things 
that  would  seem  evil  to  a  man  who  did  not  rightly  consider 
them,  and  yet  are  not  evil." 

Then  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino  replied: 

"  On  your  faith,  I  pray  you  discuss  this  a  little,  and  teach  us 
how  the  really  good  can  be  distinguished  from  that  which  only 
seems  so." 

"  Pardon  me,"  said  messer  Federico;  "  I  am  unwilling  to  enter 
upon  that,  for  there  would  be  too  much  to  say;  but  let  the  whole 
matter  be  left  to  your  own  wisdom." 

24.—"  At  least  clear  another  doubt  for  me,"  returned  my  lord 

"  And  what  doubt?"  said  messer  Federico. 

"  It  is  this,"  replied  my  lord  Caspar.  "  I  should  like  to  know, — 
my  lord  having  charged  me  exactly  what  I  must  do  in  an  enter- 
prise or  any  other  business  whatever,  if  I  being  engaged  upon  it 
think  that  my  doing  more  or  less  or  otherwise  than  I  was 
charged,  may  make  the  affair  turn  out  better  and  more  advan- 
tageously for  him  who  gave  me  the  task, — whether  I  ought  to 
govern  myself  by  the  original  plan  without  exceeding  the  limits 
of  my  command,  or  on  the  contrary  to  do  that  which  seems  to 
me  better." 

Then  messer  Federico  replied: 

"  In  this  I  should  give  you  the  precept  and  example  of  Man- 
lius  Torquatus  (who  in  like  case  slew  his  son,  from  too  stern  a 
sense  of  duty),  if  I  thought  he  deserved  much  credit,  which  I  do 
not.'"  And  yet  I  dare  not  blame  him  against  the  verdict  of  so 
many  centuries.  For  without  doubt  it  is  a  very  perilous  thing 
to  deviate  from  our  superiors'  commands,  relying  more  on  our 
own  judgment  than  on  theirs  whom  we  ought  in  reason  to  obey; 
because  if  our  expectation  fails  and  the  affair  turns  out  ill,  we 
run  into  the  errour  of  disobedience  and  ruin  that  which  we  have 
to.  do,  without  any  possibility  of  excuse  or  hope  of  pardon.  On 
the  other  hand,  if  the  affair  turns  out  according  to  our  wish,  we 
must  give  the  credit  to  fortune  and  be  content  at  that.  More- 
over in  this  way  a  fashion  is  set  of  rating  the  commands  of  our 
superiors  lightly;  and  following  the  example  of  one  man  who 



happened  to  succeed  and  who  perhaps  was  prudent  and  had 
reasoned  well  and  been  aided  by  fortune  too, — a  thousand  other 
ignorant  featherheads  will  make  bold  to  do  as  they  please  in  the 
most  important  matters,  and  for  the  sake  of  showing  that  they 
are  sagacious  and  have  authority,  to  deviate  from  their  masters' 
commands;  which  is  a  very  evil  thing  and  often  the  cause  of 
numberless  mistakes. 

"  But  I  think  that  in  such  a  case  the  man  whom  it  concerns 
ought  to  consider  carefully,  and  as  it  were  to  place  in  the  balance 
the  profit  and  advantage  that  he  stands  to  win  by  acting  contrary 
to  orders,  in  case  his  design  turns  out  according  to  his  hopes; 
and  on  the  other  hand  to  weigh  the  evil  and  disadvantage  that 
will  accrue  if  the  affair  chances  to  turn  out  ill  through  his  dis- 
obedience of  orders.  And  if  he  finds  the  damage  in  case  of 
failure  to  be  greater  and  more  serious  than  the  gain  in  case  of 
success,  he  ought  to  restrain  himself  and  carry  out  his  orders  to 
the  letter;  while  on  the  contrary  if  the  gain  in  case  of  success  is 
like  to  be  more  serious  than  the  damage  in  case  of  failure,  I 
think  he  may  properly  venture  to  do  that  which  his  reason  and 
judgment  dictate,  and  somewhat  disregard  the  very  letter  of  his 
orders, — so  as  to  act  like  good  merchants,  who  to  gain  much 
risk  little,  but  never  risk  much  to  gain  little. 

"  I  strongly  approve  of  the  Courtier's  observing  above  all  the 
character  of  the  prince  whom  he  serves,  and  of  his  governing 
himself  accordingly:  for  if  it  be  severe,  as  is  the  case  with  many, 
I  should  never  advise  anyone  who  was  my  friend  to  change  one 
jot  the  order  given  him;  lest  that  might  befall  him  which  is  re- 
corded as  having  befallen  a  master  engineer  of  the  Athenians,  to 
whom  Publius  Crassus  Mucianus,"^  when  he  was  in  Asia  and 
wished  to  besiege  a  fortified  place,  sent  to  ask  for  one  of  two 
ship's  masts  that  he  had  seen  at  Athens,  in  order  to  make  a  ram 
wherewith  to  batter  down  the  wall,  and  said  he  wished  the 
larger  one.  Being  very  intelligent,  the  engineer  knew  that  the 
larger  mast  was  unsuitable  for  the  purpose,  and  as  the  smaller 
one  was  easier  to  transport  and  better  adapted  for  making  the 
machine  in  question,  he  sent  it  to  Mucianus.  The  latter,  hearing 
how  things  had  gone,  sent  for  the  poor  engineer,  asked  why  he 
had  disobeyed  his  orders,  and  refusing  to  listen  to  any  excuse 



from  him,  caused  him  to  be  stripped  naked  and  so  flogged  and 
scourged  with  rods  that  he  died,  because  it  seemed  to  Mucianus 
that  instead  of  obeying,  the  man  had  tried  to  offer  advice.  So 
we  had  best  use  great  caution  with  these  rigourous  men. 

25 — "  But  now  let  us  leave  this  subject  of  intercourse  with 
princes,  and  come  to  conversation  with  our  equals  or  with 
those  that  are  nearly  so:  for  we  must  pay  heed  to  this  also, 
since  it  is  universally  more  practised  and  a  man  more  often 
finds  himself  engaged  in  it  than  in  conversation  with  princes. 

"  There  are  however  some  simpletons,  who,  even  in  the  com- 
pany of  the  best  friend  they  have  in  the  world,  on  meeting  a 
man  who  is  better  dressed,  at  once  attach  themselves  to  him, 
and  then  if  they  happen  on  one  still  better  dressed,  they  do  the 
like  to  him.  And  later,  when  the  prince  is  passing  through  the 
squares  or  churches  or  other  public  places,  they  elbow  their 
way  past  everyone  until  they  reach  his  side:  and  even  if  they 
have  naught  to  say  to  him,  they  still  must  talk,  and  go  on  bab- 
bling, and  laugh  and  clap  their  hands  and  head,  to  show  they 
have  business  of  importance,  so  that  the  crowd  may  see  them  in 
favour.  But  since  these  fellows  deign  to  speak  only  with  their 
lords,  I  would  not  have  us  deign  to  speak  of  them." 

26 — Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  said: 

"  As  you  have  mentioned  those  who  are  so  fond  of  the  com- 
pany of  well  dressed  men,  I  should  like  you  to  show  us,  messer 
Federico,  in  what  manner  the  Courtier  ought  to  dress,  and  what 
costume  is  suitable  to  him,  and  in  what  way  he  ought  to  govern 
himself  in  all  matters  of  bodily  adornment.  For  in  this  we  find 
an  infinite  variety:  some  who  dress  after  the  French  fashion, 
some  after  the  Spanish,  some  who  wish  to  appear  German;  nor 
is  their  lack  of  those  who  even  dress  after  the  style  of  Turks: 
some  who  wear  their  beards,  some  not.  Hence  in  this  medley  it 
were  well  to  know  how  to  choose  the  best." 

Messer  Federico  said: 

"  Indeed  I  should  not  know  how  to  give  a  precise  rule  about 
dress,  except  that  a  man  ought  to  follow  the  custom  of  the  ma- 
jority; and  since  (as  you  say)  this  custom  is  so  various,  and  the 
Italians  are  so  fond  of  arraying  themselves  after  foreign  fashions, 
I  think  every  man  may  dress  as  he  pleases. 



"  But  I  do  not  know  by  what  fate  it  happens  that  Italy  has  not, 
as  it  was  wont  to  have,  a  costume  that  should  be  recognized  as 
Italian:  for  although  the  putting  of  these  new  fashions  into  use 
may  have  made  the  former  ones  seem  very  rude,  yet  the  old 
ones  were  perhaps  a  badge  of  freedom,  as  the  new  ones  have 
proved  an  augury  of  servitude,  which  I  think  is  now  very  clearly 
fulfilled.'"  And  as  it  is  recorded  that  when  Darius  had  the  Per- 
sian sword  which  he  wore  at  his  side  fashioned  after  the  Mace- 
donian style,  the  year  before  he  fought  with  Alexander,  this  was 
interpreted  by  the  soothsayers  to  signify  that  they  into  whose 
fashion  Darius  had  transformed  his  Persian  sword,  should  come 
to  rule  over  Persia."^  So  our  having  changed  our  Italian  garb 
for  that  of  strangers  seems  to  signify  that  all  those  for  whose 
garb  we  have  exchanged  our  own  must  come  to  conquer  us: 
which  has  been  but  too  true,  for  there  is  now  left  no  nation  that 
has  not  made  us  its  prey:  so  that  little  more  is  left  to  prey  upon, 
and  yet  they  do  not  cease  preying  upon  us. 

27.—"  But  I  do  not  wish  to  touch  on  painful  subjects.  There- 
fore it  will  be  well  to  speak  of  our  Courtier's  clothes;  which  I 
think,  provided  they  be  not  out  of  the  common  or  inappropriate 
to  his  profession,  may  do  very  well  in  other  respects  if  only  they 
satisfy  him  who  wears  them.  True  it  is  that  I  for  my  part 
should  not  like  them  to  be  extreme  in  any  wise,  as  the  French 
are  sometimes  wont  to  be  in  over  amplitude,  and  the  Germans 
in  over  scantiness, — but  as  they  both  are,  only  corrected  and 
improved  in  form  by  the  Italians.  Moreover  I  always  like  them 
to  tend  a  little  towards  the  grave  and  sober  rather  than  the  gay. 
Thus  I  think  black  is  more  suitable  for  garments  than  any  other 
colour  is;  and  if  it  is  not  black,  let  it  at  least  be  somewhat  dark. 
And  this  I  say  of  ordinary  attire,  for  there  is  no  doubt  that 
bright  and  cheerful  colours  are  more  suitable  over  armour,  and 
for  gala  use  also  dress  may  be  fringed,  showy  and  magnificent; 
likewise  on  public  occasions,  such  as  festivals,  shows,  masque- 
rades, and  the  like.  For  such  garments  carry  with  them  a  certain 
liveliness  and  gaiety  that  accord  very  well  with  arms  and 
sports.  But  for  the  rest  I  would  have  our  Courtier's  dress  dis- 
play that  sobriety  which  the  Spanish  nation  greatly  affect,  for 
things  external  often  bear  witness  to  the  things  within." 


Then  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  This  would  give  me  little  concern,  for  if  a  gentleman  is  of 
worth  in  other  things,  his  attire  will  never  enhance  or  lessen  his 

"  You  say  truly,"  replied  messer  Federico.  "  Yet  what  one  of 
us  is  there,  who,  on  seeing  a  gentleman  pass  by  with  a  garment 
on  his  back  quartered  in  divers  colours,  or  with  a  mass  of  strings 
and  knotted  ribbons  and  cross  lacings,  does  not  take  him  for  a 
fool  or  a  buffoon?" 

"  Neither  for  a  fool,"  said  messer  Pietro  Bembo,  "  nor  for  a 

I  buffoon  would  he  be  taken  by  anyone  who  had  lived  any  time  in 
Lombardy,  for  all  men  go  about  like  that." 

"  Then,"  said  my  lady  Duchess,  laughing,  "  if  all  men  go  about 
like  that,  we  must  not  cast  it  at  them  as  a  fault,  since  this  attire 
is  as  fitting  and  proper  to  them  as  it  is  for  the  Venetians  to  wear 
puffed  sleeves,"*  or  for  the  Florentines  to  wear  the  hood." 

"  I  am  not  speaking,"  said  messer  Federico,  "  more  of  Lom- 
bardy than  of  other  places,  for  both  the  foolish  and  the  wise  are 
to  be  found  in  every  nation.  But  to  say  what  I  think  is  impor- 
tant in  attire,  I  wish  that  our  Courtier  may  be  neat  and  dainty 
throughout  his  dress,  and  have  a  certain  air  of  modest  elegance, 
yet  not  of  a  womanish  or  vain  style.  Nor  would  I  have  him 
more  careful  of  one  thing  than  of  another,  like  many  we  see 
who  take  such  pains  with  their  hair  that  they  forget  the  rest; 
others  devote  themselves  to  their  teeth,  others  to  their  beard, 
others  to  their  boots,  others  to  their  bonnets,  others  to  their 
coifs;""  and  the  result  is  that  these  few  details  of  elegance  seem 
borrowed  by  them,  while  all  the  rest,  being  very  tasteless,  is 
recognized  as  their  own.  And  this  kind  of  dress  I  would  have 
our  Courtier  shun,  by  my  advice;  adding  also  that  he  ought  to 
consider  how  he  wishes  to  seem  and  of  what  sort  he  wishes  to 
be  esteemed,  and  to  dress  accordingly  and  contrive  that  his 
attire  shall  aid  him  to  be  so  regarded  even  by  those  who  neither 
hear  him  speak  nor  witness  any  act  of  his." 

28.— Then  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino  said: 

"  Methinks  it  is  not  fitting,  or  even  customary  among  persons 
of  worth,  to  judge  men's  quality  by  their  dress  rather  than  by 
their  words  and  acts;  for  many  would  make  mistakes,  nor  is  it 



without  reason  that  we  have  the  proverb, '  dress  makes  not  the 

"I  do  not  say,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "that  fixed  opinions 
of  men's  worth  are  to  be  formed  only  in  this  way,  or  that  they 
are  not  better  known  by  their  words  and  acts  than  by  their 
dress:  but  I  do  say  that  dress  is  no  bad  index  of  the  wearer's 
fancy,  although  it  may  be  sometimes  wrong;  and  not  only  this, 
but  all  ways  and  manners,  as  well  as  acts  and  words,  are  an  in- 
dication of  the  qualities  of  the  man  in  whom  they  are  seen." 

•'  And  what  things  do  you  find,"  replied  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  from 
which  we  may  form  an  opinion,  that  are  neither  words  nor 

Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"  You  are  too  subtle  a  logician.  But  to  tell  you  what  I  mean, 
there  are  some  acts  that  still  endure  after  they  are  performed, 
such  as  building,  writing,  and  the  like;  others  do  not  endure, 
such  as  those  I  have  now  in  mind.  In  this  sense,  therefore,  I  do 
not  say  that  walking,  laughing,  looking,  and  the  like,  are  acts, — 
and  yet  all  these  outward  things  often  give  knowledge  of  those 
within.  Tell  me,  did  you  not  judge  that  friend  of  ours,  of  whom 
we  were  speaking  only  this  morning,  to  be  a  light  and  frivolous 
man  as  soon  as  you  saw  him  walking  with  that  twist  of  his  head, 
wriggling  about,  and  with  affable  demeanour  inviting  the  by- 
standers to  doff  their  caps  to  him?  So,  too,  when  you  see  anyone 
gazing  too  intently  with  dull  eyes  after  the  manner  of  an  idiot,  or 
laughing  as  stupidly  as  those  goitrous  mutes  in  the  mountains  of 
Bergamo,'" — do  you  not  set  him  down  a  very  simpleton,  although 
he  neither  speak  nor  do  aught  else?  Thus  you  see  that  these 
ways  and  manners  (which  I  do  not  for  the  present  regard  as 
acts)  in  great  measure  make  men  known  to  us. 

29-— "But  another  thing  seems  to  me  to  give  and  to  take  away 
from  reputation  greatly,  and  this  is  our  choice  of  the  friends  with 
whom  we  are  to  live  in  intimate  relations;  for  doubtless  reason 
requires  that  they  who  are  joined  in  close  amity  and  fast  com- 
panionship, shall  have  their  desires,  souls,  judgments  and  minds 
also  in  accord.  Thus,  he  who  consorts  with  the  ignorant  or 
wicked,  is  deemed  ignorant  or  wicked;  and  on  the  contrary,  he 
who  consorts  with  the  good,  the  wise,  and  the  discreet,  is  himself 


deemed  to  be  the  like.  Because  by  nature  everything  seems  to 
join  willingly  with  its  like.  Therefore  I  think  we  ought  to  use 
great  care  in  beginning  these  friendships,  for  he  who  knows  one 
of  two  close  friends,  at  once  imagines  the  other  to  be  of  the  same 

Then  messer  Pietro  Bembo  replied: 

"  I  certainly  think  we  ought  to  take  great  care  to  limit  our- 
selves to  friends  of  like  mind  with  us,  as  you  say,  not  only  because 
of  the  gain  or  loss  of  reputation,  but  because  there  are  to-day 
very  few  true  friends  to  be  found,  nor  do  I  believe  that  the  world 
any  longer  contains  a  Pylades  and  Orestes,  a  Theseus  and  Pirith- 
ous,  or  a  Scipio  and  Laelius.'"  On  the  contrary,  by  some  fatality 
it  happens  every  day  that  two  friends,  who  have  lived  in  very 
cordial  love  for  many  years,  yet  in  some  way  cheat  each  other 
at  last,  either  through  malice,  or  jealousy,  or  fickleness,  or  some 
other  evil  cause :  and  each  gives  the  other  the  blame  which  per- 
haps both  deserve. 

"  Therefore,  since  it  has  more  than  once  happened  to  me  to  be 
deceived  by  him  whom  I  most  loved  above  every  other  person, 
and  by  whom  I  was  sure  I  was  loved, — I  have  sometimes  thought 
to  myself  that  it  would  be  well  for  us  never  to  trust  anyone  in 
the  world,  nor  so  to  give  ourselves  up  to  any  friend  (however 
dear  and  loved  he  be)  as  to  reveal  all  our  thoughts  to  him,  as  we 
should  to  ourselves;  for  there  are  so  many  dark  corners  and  re- 
cesses in  our  minds  that  it  is  impossible  for  human  wit  to  pene- 
trate the  deceptions  they  conceal.  Hence  I  think  it  were  well  to 
love  and  serve  one  more  than  another  according  to  merit  and 
worth;  yet  never  to  be  so  sure  of  friendship's  sweet  enticement, 
that  we  at  last  have  cause  to  rue  our  trust." 

30 — Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"Verily  the  loss  would  be  far  greater  than  the  gain,  if  human 
intercourse  were  to  be  deprived  of  that  highest  pitch  of  friendship 
which  in  my  opinion  gives  us  all  the  good  our  life  has  in  it;  and 
therefore  I  will  in  no  wise  admit  that  what  you  say  is  reasonable, 
nay  rather  I  venture  to  assert,  and  for  the  clearest  reasons,  that 
without  this  perfect  friendship  men  would  be  far  unhappier  than 
all  other  creatures.  And  if  some  profanely  stain  this  sacred  name 
of  friendship,  we  ought  not  on  that  account  to  uproot  it  from  our 



hearts,  and  for  the  guilt  of  the  wicked  deprive  the  good  of  such 
felicity.  And  for  my  part  I  think  there  are  here  among  us  more 
than  one  pair  of  friends,  whose  love  is  steadfast  and  without  de- 
ceit and  lasting  unto  death  with  like  desires,  no  less  than  if  they 
were  those  ancients  whom  you  mentioned  awhile  ago;  and  it 
happens  thus  when  a  man  chooses  a  friend,  not  only  from  heaven- 
born  impulse,  but  like  himself  in  character.  And  in  all  this  I  am 
speaking  of  the  good  and  virtuous,  for  the  friendship  of  the 
wicked  is  not  friendship. 

"I  am  well  pleased  that  so  close  a  tie  as  this  should  not  join  or 
bind  more  than  two,  for  otherwise  perhaps  it  would  be  danger- 
ous; because,  as  you  know,  it  is  harder  to  attune  three  musical 
instruments  together,  than  two.  Therefore,  I  would  that  our 
Courtier  might  have  one  special  and  hearty  friend,  if  possible,  of 
the  kind  we  have  described;  then  that  he  might  love,  honour  and 
respect  all  others  according  to  their  worth  and  merits,  and  always 
contrive  to  consort  more  with  such  as  are  in  high  esteem  and 
noble  and  of  known  virtue,  than  with  the  ignoble  and  those  of 
little  worth;  in  such  wise  that  he  may  be  loved  and  honoured 
by  them  also.  And  he  will  accomplish  this  if  he  be  courteous, 
kind,  generous,  affable  and  mild  with  others,  zealous  and  ac- 
tive to  serve  and  guard  his  friends'  welfare  and  honour  both 
absent  and  present,  enduring  such  of  their  natural  defects  as 
are  endurable,  without  breaking  with  them  for  slight  cause, 
and  correcting  in  himself  those  that  are  kindly  pointed  out; 
never  thrusting  himself  before  others  to  reach  the  first  and 
most  honoured  places;  nor  acting  like  some,  who  seem  to  de- 
spise the  world  and  insist  with  a  kind  of  tiresome  preciseness 
on  laying  down  the  law  for  everyone,  and  who,  besides  being 
unseasonably  contentious  in  every  little  thing,  censure  that  which 
they  do  not  do  themselves,  and  are  always  seeking  occasion  for 
complaint  against  their  friends, — which  is  a  very  odious  thing." 

3I-— Messer  Federico  pausing  here,  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavi- 
cino  said: 

"  I  should  like  to  have  you  speak  a  little  more  in  detail  than 
you  do  about  this  matter  of  converse  with  our  friends;  for  in 
truth   you  keep  much  to  generalities,   and  show  us  things  in 
passing,  as  it  were." 


"How  'in  passing'?"  replied  messer  Federico.  "Perhaps  you 
would  have  me  tell  the  very  words  that  you  must  use  ?  Do  you 
not  think  we  have  talked  enough  about  this?" 

"Enough  I  think,"  replied  my  lord  Gaspar.  "Yet  I  should 
like  to  hear  a  few  more  details  about  the  manner  of  intercourse 
with  men  and  women;  for  the  thing  seems  to  me  of  great 
importance,  seeing  that  most  of  our  time  at  courts  is  given  to 
it;  and  if  it  were  always  the  same,  it  would  soon  become  te- 

"  I  think,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  we  have  given  the  Cour- 
tier knowledge  of  so  many  things,  that  he  can  easily  vary  his 
conversation  and  adapt  himself  to  the  quality  of  the  persons 
with  whom  he  has  to  do,  presupposing  he  has  good  sense  and 
governs  himself  by  it,  and  sometimes  turns  to  grave  matters  and 
sometimes  to  festivals  and  games,  according  to  the  occasion." 

"And  what  games?"  said  my  lord  Gaspar. 

Then  messer  Federico  replied,  laughing: 

"  Let  us  ask  advice  of  Fra  Serafino,  who  invents  new  ones 
every  day." 

"  Jesting  apart,"  answered  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  do  you  think  it 
would  be  a  vice  in  the  Courtier  to  play  at  cards  and  dice?" 

"  Not  I,"  said  messer  Federico,  "  unless  he  did  so  too  con- 
stantly and  neglected  more  important  matters  for  them,  or  in- 
deed unless  he  played  for  nothing  else  but  to  win  money,  and 

■"  -ted  the  company,  and  showed  such  grief  and  vexation  at 
trate  tuo  .  ,  .        ^r-        •        » 

,   -»  argue  himself  a  miser, 
love  and  serv*..         ,.    ,  i     j  <-.  ,,  j  r  ^i. 

replied  my   lord  Gaspar,  "  do   you  say  of  the 
worth;  yet  never 

that  we  at  last  have     ,  4.        j  •  •  4. ..      •  j 

_,  'Pleasant   and  ingenious  amusement,     said 

30.— Then  messer  Fe  .  t  4.u-  1    ^u         •  j  r    ^  •     •*      a    j 

,,.,,,  ,t  I  think  there  is  one  defect  in  it.    And 

"Venly  the  loss  wouh   .     ,  ^t,  ^     u  u  1 

•^  ,      ,     to  know,  so  that  whoever  would  excel 

mtercourse  were  to  be  dew  j  1.^.  -^        ^i.-   1  j 

....  .   .         .    ^'^  spend  much  time  on  it,  methinks,  and 

which  in  my  opinion  gives  f^,  ,,  ,  t,i         • 

^,        -       _  -^  .,r.  °  .       *^  he  would  learn  some  noble  science 

therefore  I  will  in  no  wise  a  .  ,  j       ^  ■     ^.i.         ^ 

,  "tance  you  please;  and  yet  in  the  end 

nay  rather  I  venture  to  assei        j       ^iT-       u\  rru 

•;fi-     ^  X1--  f    ^  r  ■      ,  .irned  nothing  but  a  game.     There- 

without  this  perfect  friendf  ^,.       .    ^  ^  .^  1    ^1.  ..        j- 

„    ^,  '^  A    J  .  *  thing  IS  true  of  it,  namely  that  medi- 

an other  creatures.     And/     ,,  ,,  „  "^ 

^^.     J,.  ,      thy  than  excellence, 

of  friendship,  we  ought   . .  ■^ 



"  Many  Spaniards  excel  in  this  and  divers  other  games,  yet 
without  giving  them  much  study  or  neglecting  other  things." 

"  Believe  me,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  they  do  give  much 
study  thereto,  although  covertly.  But  those  other  games  you 
speak  of,  besides  chess,  are  perhaps  like  many  I  have  seen 
played  (although  of  little  moment),  which  serve  only  to  make 
the  vulgar  marvel;  wherefore  methinks  they  deserve  no  other 
praise  or  reward  than  that  which  Alexander  the  Great  gave  the 
fellow  who  at  a  good  distance  impaled  chick-peas  on  the  point 
of  a  needle.'" 

32 — "  But  since  it  appears  that  fortune  exerts  immense  power 
over  men's  opinions  as  over  many  other  things,  we  sometimes 
see  that  a  gentleman,  however  well  conditioned  he  may  be  and 
endowed  with  many  graces,  is  unacceptable  to  a  prince,  and 
goes  against  the  grain  as  we  say;'"  and  this  without  any  ap- 
parent reason,  so  that  as  soon  as  he  comes  into  the  prince's 
presence  and  before  he  is  known  by  the  others,  although  he  be 
keen  and  ready  with  retorts,  and  display  himself  to  advantage  in 
gestures,  manners,  words,  and  all  else  that  is  becoming, — the 
prince  will  show  small  esteem  for  him,  nay  will  soon  put  some 
affront  upon  him.  And  thus  it  will  come  about  that  the  others 
will  follow  the  prince's  lead,  and  everyone  will  regard  the  man 
as  of  little  worth,  nor  will  there  be  any  to  prize  or  esteem  him, 
or  laugh  at  his  amusing  talk  or  hold  him  in  any  respect;  nay,  all 
will  begin  to  deride  and  persecute  him.  Nor  will  it  be  enough 
for  the  poor  man  to  make  good  retorts  or  take  things  as  if  said 
in  jest,  for  the  very  pages  will  set  upon  him,  so  that  even  if  he 
were  the  sturdiest  man  in  the  world,  he  must  perforce  remain 
foiled  and  ridiculed. 

"  And  on  the  other  hand,  if  the  prince  shows  favour  to  a  very 
dolt,  who  knows  neither  how  to  speak  nor  how  to  act, — his  man- 
ners and  ways  (however  silly  and  uncouth  they  be)  will  often  be 
praised  by  everyone  with  exclamations  and  astonishment,  and 
the  whole  court  will  seem  to  admire  and  respect  him,  and  every- 
one will  appear  to  laugh  at  his  jests  and  at  certain  rustic  and 
stupid  jokes  that  ought  to  excite  rather  disgust  than  laughter:  to 
such  degree  are  men  firm  and  fixed  in  the  opinions  that  are  en- 
gendered by  the  favour  and  disfavour  of  lords, 


"  Therefore  I  would  have  our  Courtier  set  off  his  worth  as 
best  he  can,  with  cleverness  and  skill,  and  whenever  he  has  to 
go  where  he  is  strange  and  unknown,  let  him  take  care  that 
good  opinion  of  him  precedes  him,  and  see  to  it  that  men  there 
shall  know  of  his  being  highly  rated  in  other  places,  among 
other  lords,  ladies  and  gentlemen;  for  that  fame  which  seems  to 
spring  from  many  judgments,  begets  a  kind  of  firm  belief  in  a 
man's  worth,  which,  in  minds  thus  disposed  and  prepared,  is 
then  easily  maintained  and  increased  by  his  conduct:  moreover 
he  escapes  that  annoyance  which  I  feel  when  asked  who  I  am 
and  what  my  name  is." 

33.—"  I  do  not  see  how  this  can  help,"  replied  messer  Ber- 
nardo Bibbiena;  "for  it  has  several  times  happened  to  me,  and 
I  think  to  many  others,  that  having  been  led  by  the  word  of  per- 
sons of  judgment  to  imagine  something  to  be  of  great  excellence 
before  I  saw  it, — on  seeing  it  I  found  it  paltry  and  was  much 
disappointed  of  what  I  expected.  And  the  reason  was  simply 
that  I  had  put  too  much  trust  in  report  and  formed  in  my  mind 
so  high  an  expectation,  that  although  the  real  thing  was  great 
and  excellent,  yet  when  afterwards  measured  by  the  fact,  it 
seemed  very  paltry  by  comparison  with  what  I  had  imagined. 
And  I  fear  it  may  be  so  with  our  Courtier  too.  Therefore  I  do 
not  see  the  advantage  of  raising  such  expectations  and  sending 
our  fame  before  us;  for  the  mind  often  imagines  things  that  it  is 
impossible  to  fulfil,  and  thus  we  lose  more  than  we  gain." 

Here  messer  Federico  said: 

"  The  things  that  you  and  many  others  find  inferior  to  their 
reputation,  are  for  the  most  part  of  such  sort  that  the  eye  can 
judge  of  them  at  a  glance, —  as  if  you  had  never  been  at  Naples 
or  Rome,  and  from  hearing  them  so  much  talked  of,  you  were  to 
imagine  something  far  beyond  what  they  afterwards  proved  to 
be  when  seen;  but  such  is  not  the  case  with  men's  character,  be- 
cause that  which  is  outwardly  seen  is  the  least  part.  Thus,  on 
first  hearing  a  gentleman  speak,  if  you  should  not  find  in  him  that 
worth  which  you  had  previously  imagined,  you  would  not  at 
once  reverse  your  good  opinion  of  him,  as  you  would  in  those 
matters  whereof  the  eye  is  instant  judge,  but  you  would  wait 
from  day  to  day  to  discover  some  other  hidden  virtue,  still  hold- 


ing  fast  to  the  good  impression  you  had  received  from  so  many 
lips;  and  later,  if  he  were  thus  richly  endowed  (as  I  assume  our 
Courtier  to  be),  your  confidence  in  his  reputation  would  be  hourly 
confirmed,  because  his  acts  would  justify  it,  and  you  would  be 
always  imagining  something  more  than  you  saw. 

34.— "And  surely  it  cannot  be  denied  that  these  first  impressions 
have  very  great  weight,  and  that  we  ought  to  be  very  careful 
regarding  them.  And  to  the  end  that  you  may  see  how  important 
they  are,  I  tell  you  that  in  my  time  I  knew  a  gentleman,  who, 
while  he  was  of  very  gentle  aspect  and  modest  manners  and  also 
valiant  in  arms,  yet  did  not  so  greatly  excel  in  any  of  these  things 
but  that  he  had  many  equals  and  even  superiors.  However,  fate 
so  willed  that  a  lady  chanced  to  fall  most  ardently  in  love  with 
him,  and  her  love  increasing  daily  with  the  signs  that  the  young 
man  gave  of  loving  her  in  return,  and  there  being  no  way  for 
them  to  speak  together,  she  was  moved  by  excess  of  passion  to 
reveal  her  desires  to  another  lady  through  whom  she  hoped  to 
secure  some  assistance.  This  lady  was  in  no  wise  inferior  to  the 
first  in  rank  or  beauty;  whence  it  came  to  pass,  that  on  hear- 
ing the  young  man  (whom  she  had  never  seen)  spoken  of  so 
tenderly,  and  perceiving  that  he  was  extravagantly  loved  by 
her  friend  (whom  she  knew  to  be  very  discreet  and  of  excel- 
lent judgment),  she  straightway  imagined  him  to  be  the  hand- 
somest and  wisest  and  most  discreet  and  in  short  the  most 
lovable  man  in  the  world.  And  thus,  without  having  seen  him, 
she  became  so  passionately  enamoured  of  him,  that  she  began 
making  every  effort  to  secure  him,  not  for  her  friend  but  for 
herself,  and  inducing  him  to  return  her  love:  which  she  suc- 
ceeded in  doing  with  little  effort,  for  in  truth  she  was  a  lady 
rather  to  be  wooed  than  to  woo  others. 

"  Now  hear  the  end  of  my  tale.  Not  long  afterwards  it  hap- 
pened that  a  letter,  which  this  second  lady  had  written  to  her 
lover,  fell  into  the  hands  of  still  another  lady,  also  very  noble 
and  of  good  character  and  rarest  beauty, —  who,  being  like  most 
ladies  curious  and  eager  to  learn  secrets  and  especially  other 
ladies',  opened  this  letter,  and  on  reading  it  saw  that  it  was 
written  with  the  fervour  of  ardent  love.  And  the  sweet,  im- 
passioned words  that  she  read  first  moved  her  to  compassion 


for  that  lady,  for  she  well  knew  from  whom  the  letter  came 
and  to  whom  it  was  going;  then  they  gained  such  power,  that 
as  she  turned  them  over  in  her  mind  and  considered  what  sort 
of  man  he  must  be  who  could  arouse  such  love  in  the  lady, 
she  too  straightway  fell  in  love  with  him;  and  the  letter  had 
perhaps  a  greater  effect  than  if  it  had  been  sent  by  the  young 
man  to  her.  And  as  it  sometimes  happens  that  a  poisoned 
dish,  intended  for  a  prince,  kills  the  first  comer  who  tastes  it, 
so  in  her  over  greediness  this  poor  lady  drank  the  love  poison 
that  had  been  prepared  for  another. 

"What  more  shall  I  say?  The  affair  became  well  known, 
and  spread  abroad  so  that  many  other  ladies  besides  these, 
partly  to  spite  the  others  and  partly  to  imitate  them,  used  every 
effort  and  pains  to  possess  themselves  of  the  man's  love,  and 
contended  for  it  with  one  another  as  boys  contend  for  cherries. 
And  all  this  began  with  the  first  impression  of  that  lady  who  saw 
him  so  beloved  by  another," 

35.— Here  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino  replied,  laughing: 

"  To  give  reasons  in  support  of  your  opinion,  you  cite  the 
doings  of  women,  who  for  the  most  part  are  quite  unreasonable. 
And  if  you  cared  to  tell  the  whole  truth,  this  favourite  of  so 
many  women  must  have  been  a  dunce  and  at  bottom  a  man  of 
little  worth.  For  their  way  is  always  to  favour  the  meanest,  and 
like  sheep  to  do  what  they  see  others  doing,  whether  it  be  good  or 
evil.  Moreover  they  are  so  jealous  among  themselves,  that  even 
if  the  man  had  been  a  monster,  they  would  have  tried  to  steal 
him  from  one  another." 

Here  many  began  to  speak,  and  nearly  everyone  wanted  to 
contradict  my  lord  Gaspar;  but  my  lady  Duchess  imposed 
silence  on  all,  and  then  said,  laughing: 

"  If  the  evil  you  say  of  women  were  not  so  far  from  the  truth, 
that  the  saying  of  it  casts  blame  and  shame  on  him  who  says  it 
rather  than  on  them,  I  should  allow  you  to  be  answered.  But  I 
am  not  willing  that,  by  being  confronted  with  the  arguments 
which  it  is  possible  to  cite,  you  should  be  cured  of  this  evil 
habit,  in  order  that  you  may  suffer  very  grievous  punishment 
for  your  fault:  which  shall  be  the  bad  opinion  wherein  you  will  be 
held  by  all  who  hear  you  argue  in  such  fashion." 



Then  messer  Federico  replied: 

"  My  lord  Caspar,  do  not  say  that  women  are  so  very  un- 
reasonable, even  if  they  are  sometimes  moved  to  love  by  others' 
judgment  rather  than  by  their  own;  for  gentlemen  and  many 
wise  men  do  the  same.  And  if  I  may  say  the  truth,  you  your- 
self and  all  the  rest  of  us  here  do  often  and  even  now  trust  more 
to  the  opinion  of  others  than  to  our  own.  And  in  proof  of  this, 
it  is  not  long  ago  that  certain  verses,  handed  about  this  court 
under  the  name  of  Sannazaro,'"'  seemed  very  excellent  to  every- 
one and  were  praised  with  wonder  and  applause;  then,  it  being 
known  for  certain  that  they  were  by  another  hand,  they  promptly 
sank  in  reputation  and  were  thought  less  than  mediocre.  And  a 
certain  motet,'"'  which  was  sung  before  my  lady  Duchess,  found 
no  favour  and  was  not  thought  good  until  it  was  known  to  be  the 
work  of  Josquin  de  Pres.'" 

"What  clearer  proof  of  the  weight  of  opinion  would  you  have? 
Do  you  not  remember  that  in  drinking  a  certain  wine,  you  at  one 
time  pronounced  it  perfect,  and  at  another  most  insipid?  And 
this  because  you  believed  there  were  two  kinds  of  wine,  one 
from  the  Genoese  Riviera,  and  the  other  from  this  country;  and 
even  when  the  mistake  was  discovered,  you  would  not  at  all  be- 
lieve it, — so  firmly  fixed  in  your  mind  was  that  wrong  opinion, 
although  you  had  received  it  from  the  report  of  others. 

36.—"  Hence  the  Courtier  ought  to  take  great  care  to  make  a 
good  impression  at  the  start,  and  to  consider  how  mischievous 
and  fatal  a  thing  it  is  to  do  otherwise.  And  they  of  all  men  run 
this  danger,  who  pride  themselves  on  being  very  amusing  and 
on  having  acquired  by  these  pleasantries  of  theirs  a  certain  free- 
dom that  makes  it  proper  and  permissible  for  them  to  do  and 
say  whatever  occurs  to  them,  without  taking  thought  about  it. 
Thus  they  often  begin  a  thing  they  know  not  how  to  finish,  and 
then  try  to  help  matters  by  raising  a  laugh ;  and  yet  they  do 
this  so  clumsily  that  it  does  not  succeed,  insomuch  that  they 
rouse  the  utmost  disgust  in  him  who  sees  or  hears  them,  and  fail 
most  lamentably. 

"  Sometimes,  thinking  it  to  be  droll  and  witty,  they  say  the 
foulest  and  most  indecent  things  before  and  even  to  honourable 
ladies;    and  the  more  they  make  these  ladies  blush,  the  more 



they  rate  themselves  good  Courtiers,  and  they  laugh  and  pride 
themselves  on  having  such  a  fine  accomplishment,  as  they  deem 
it.  Yet  they  commit  all  this  folly  with  no  other  aim  than  to  be 
esteemed  jovial  fellows:  this  is  the  one  name  which  seems  to 
them  worthy  of  praise  and  of  which  they  boast  more  than  of 
any  other;  and  to  acquire  it,  they  utter  the  grossest  and  most 
shameful  vileness  in  the  world.  Often  they  throw  one  another 
down-stairs,  clap  billets  of  wood  and  bricks  on  one  another's 
backs,  cast  handfulls  of  dust  in  one  another's  eyes,  make  one 
another's  horses  run  into  ditches  or  down  some  hill;  then  at 
table  they  throw  soups,  sauces,  jellies  and  every  kind  of  thing  in 
one  another's  faces:'"  and  then  they  laugh.  And  he  who  can 
excel  the  others  in  these  things,  esteems  himself  to  be  the  best 
Courtier  and  the  most  gallant,  and  thinks  he  has  won  great 
glory.  And  if  they  sometimes  invite  a  gentleman  to  these 
carouses  of  theirs,  and  he  does  not  choose  to  join  in  their  un- 
mannerly jokes,  they  at  once  say  he  stands  too  much  on  his 
dignity,  and  holds  himself  aloof,  and  is  not  a  jovial  fellow.  But 
I  have  worse  to  tell  you.  There  are  some  who  rival  one  an- 
other and  award  the  palm  to  him  who  can  eat  and  drink  the 
vilest  and  most  offensive  things;  and  they  devise  dishes  so  ab- 
horrent to  human  sense  that  it  is  impossible  to  recall  them  with- 
out extreme  disgust." 

37 — "And  what  may  these  be?"  said  my  lord  Ludovico  Pio. 

Messer  Federico  replied: 

"Ask  the  Marquess  Febus,  who  has  often  seen  them  in 
France,  and  perhaps  has  taken  part." 

The  Marquess  Febus  replied: 

"  I  have  seen  none  of  these  things  done  in  France  that  are  not 
done  in  Italy  as  well.  But  what  is  good  among  the  Italians  in 
dress,  sports,  banquets,  handling  arms,  and  in  everything  else 
that  befits  a  Courtier, —  all  comes  from  the  French." 

Messer  Federico  replied: 

"  I  do  not  say  that  very  noble  and  modest  cavaliers  are  not 
also  to  be  found  among  the  French,  and  I  myself  have  known 
many  who  were  truly  worthy  of  every  praise.  But  some  are 
little  circumspect,  and  generally  speaking  it  seems  to  me  that  as 
regards  breeding  the  Spaniards  have  more  in  common  with  the 



Italians  than  the  French  have;  because  that  grave  reserve 
peculiar  to  the  Spaniards  befits  us  far  more  than  the  quick 
vivacity  which  among  the  French  we  see  in  almost  every 
movement,  and  which  is  not  unseemly  in  them,  nay  is  charming, 
for  it  is  so  natural  and  proper  to  them  as  not  to  seem  at  all 
affected.  There  are  very  many  Italians  who  earnestly  strive  to 
copy  this  manner;  and  they  can  only  shake  their  heads  in  speak- 
ing and  make  clumsy  crosswise  bows,  and  walk  so  fast  that  their 
lackeys  cannot  keep  up  with  them  when  they  pass  through  the 
city.  And  with  these  ways  they  seem  to  themselves  to  be  good 
Frenchmen  and  to  have  the  same  freedom  of  manner,  which  in 
truth  rarely  happens  save  with  those  who  have  been  bred  in 
France  and  have  acquired  the  manner  in  their  youth. 

"The  same  is  true  of  knowing  many  languages;  which  I  ap- 
prove highly  in  the  Courtier,  especially  Spanish  and  French, 
because  the  intercourse  of  both  these  nations  with  Italy  is  very 
frequent,  and  they  have  more  in  common  with  us  than  any  of  the 
others  have ;  and  their  two  princes,'™  being  very  powerful  in 
war  and  very  glorious  in  peace,  always  have  their  courts  full  of 
noble  cavaliers,  who  spread  throughout  the  world;  and  it  is 
necessary  for  us  also  to  converse  with  them. 

38.—"  I  do  not  care  at  present  to  go  more  into  detail  in  speak- 
ing of  things  that  are  too  well  known,  such  as  that  our  Courtier 
ought  not  to  avow  himself  a  great  eater  or  drinker,  or  given  to 
excess  in  any  evil  habit,  or  vile  and  ungoverned  in  his  life,  with 
certain  peasant  ways  that  recall  the  hoe  and  plough  a  thousand 
miles  away;  because  a  man  of  this  kind  not  only  may  not  hope 
to  become  a  good  Courtier,  but  can  be  set  to  no  more  fitting 
business  than  feeding  sheep. 

"  And  finally  I  say  it  were  well  for  the  Courtier  to  know  per- 
fectly that  which  we  have  said  befits  him,  so  that  every  possible 
thing  may  be  easy  to  him,  and  everyone  may  marvel  at  him, — 
he  at  no  one.  But  be  it  understood  that  there  ought  not  to  be  in 
him  that  lofty  and  ungenial  indifference  which  some  men  have 
who  show  they  are  not  surprised  at  what  others  do  because 
they  imagine  they  can  do  it  better,  and  who  disparage  it  by 
silence  as  not  worth  speaking  of;  and  they  almost  seem  to  imply 
that  no  one  is  their  equal  or  even  able  to  fathom  the  profundity 



of  their  knowledge.  W^herefore  the  Courtier  ought  to  shun 
these  odious  ways,  and  to  praise  the  fine  achievements  of  other 
men  with  kindness  and  good  will;  and  although  he  may  feel  that 
he  is  admirable  and  far  superior  to  all,  yet  he  ought  to  appear 
not  to  think  so. 

"  But  since  such  complete  perfection  as  this  is  very  rarely  and 
perhaps  never  found  in  human  nature,  a  man  who  is  conscious 
of  being  lacking  in  some  particular,  ought  not  to  despond  thereat 
or  lose  hope  of  reaching  a  high  standard,  even  though  he  cannot 
attain  that  perfect  and  supreme  excellence  to  which  he  aspires. 
For  in  every  art  there  are  many  grades  that  are  honourable 
besides  the  highest,  and  whoever  aims  at  the  highest  will  seldom 
fail  to  rise  more  than  half-way.  Therefore  if  our  Courtier 
excels  in  anything  besides  arms,  I  would  have  him  get  profit  and 
esteem  from  it  in  fine  fashion;  and  I  would  have  him  so  dis- 
creet and  sensible  as  to  be  able  with  skill  and  address  to  attract 
men  to  see  and  hear  that  wherein  he  thinks  he  excels,  always 
appearing  not  to  do  it  from  ostentation,  but  by  chance  and  at 
others'  request  rather  than  by  his  own  wish.  And  in  everything 
he  has  to  do  or  say,  let  him  if  possible  come  ready  and  prepared, 
yet  appearing  to  act  impromptu  throughout.  In  those  things, 
however,  wherein  he  feels  himself  to  be  mediocre,  let  him  touch 
in  passing,  without  dwelling  much  upon  them,  albeit  in  such 
fashion  that  he  may  be  thought  to  know  more  about  them  than 
he  shows  himself  to  know:  like  certain  poets,  who  sometimes 
touched  lightly  upon  the  profoundest  depths  of  philosophy  and 
other  sciences,  of  which  perhaps  they  understood  little.  Then, 
in  that  of  which  he  knows  he  is  wholly  ignorant,  I  would  never 
have  him  make  any  pretence  or  seek  to  win  any  fame;  nay  if 
need  be,  let  him  frankly  confess  his  ignorance." 

39— "That,"  said  Calmeta,  "is  not  what  Nicoletto""  would  have 
done,  who  was  a  very  excellent  philosopher  but  knew  no  more 
about  law  than  about  flying.  When  a  Podest^'"  of  Padua  had 
decided  to  give  him  a  lectureship  in  law,  he  was  never  willing 
(although  urged  thereto  by  many  scholars)  to  undeceive  the  Po- 
dest^  and  confess  his  ignorance, —  always  saying  that  he  did  not 
agree  with  the  opinion  of  Socrates  in  this  matter,  and  that  it  was 
not  seemly  for  a  philosopher  ever  to  say  that  he  was  ignorant 
of  anything." 



Messer  Federico  replied: 

"  I  do  not  say  that  of  his  own  notion  and  unasked  by  others, 
the  Courtier  should  volunteer  to  tell  his  ignorance;  for  I  too 
dislike  this  folly  of  self-accusal  and  depreciation.  And  there- 
fore I  sometimes  inwardly  laugh  at  certain  men,  who  needlessly 
and  of  their  own  accord  narrate  things  that  perhaps  occurred 
without  their  fault  but  yet  imply  a  shade  of  disgrace;  like  a 
cavalier  whom  you  all  know,  and  who,  whenever  he  heard  men- 
tion made  of  the  battle  that  was  fought  against  King  Charles 
in  the  Parmesan,'"'  at  once  began  to  tell  the  manner  of  his 
flight,  nor  seemed  to  have  seen  or  heard  aught  else  that  day; 
again,  speaking  of  a  certain  famous  joust,  he  always  described 
how  he  had  fallen,  and  in  his  conversation  he  often  seemed  to 
seek  an  opportunity  to  tell  how  he  had  received  a  sound  cud- 
gelling one  night  as  he  was  on  his  way  to  meet  a  lady. 

"  I  would  not  have  our  Courtier  tell  such  follies.  It  seems  to 
me,  however,  that  when  occasion  offers  for  displaying  himself  in 
something  of  which  he  is  quite  ignorant,  he  ought  to  avoid  it; 
and  if  compelled  by  necessity,  he  ought  to  confess  his  ignorance 
frankly  rather  than  put  himself  to  that  risk.  And  in  this  way 
he  will  escape  the  censure  that  many  nowadays  deserve,  who 
from  some  perverse  instinct  or  unreasonable  design  always  set 
themselves  to  do  that  which  they  do  not  know,  and  forsake  that 
which  they  do  know.  And  as  an  instance  of  this,  I  know  a  very 
excellent  musician,  who,  having  abandoned  music,  gave  himself 
up  wholly  to  composing  verses,  and  thinks  himself  very  great 
therein,  and  makes  all  men  laugh  at  him;  and  now  he  has  lost 
even  his  music. 

"  Another  man,  one  of  the  first  painters  of  the  world,  despises 
the  art  wherein  he  is  most  rare,  and  has  set  himself  to  study 
philosophy;  in  which  he  has  such  strange  conceptions  and 
new  chimeras,  that  he  could  not  with  all  his  painter's  art  depict 
them."'  And  of  such  as  these,  a  countless  number  could  be 

"  Some  indeed  there  are  who  know  they  excel  in  one  thing 
and  yet  make  their  chief  business  of  another,  of  which  they  are 
not  ignorant  either;  but  every  time  they  have  occasion  to  display 
themselves  in  that  wherein  they  feel  themselves  proficient,  they 
do  it  gallantly.  And  it  sometimes  comes  to  pass  that  the  com- 


pany,  seeing  them  do  well  in  that  which  is  not  their  profession, 
think  they  can  do  far  better  in  that  which  they  make  their  pro- 
fession. This  art,  if  it  be  accompanied  by  good  judgment,  is  by 
no  means  unpleasing  to  me." 

40-— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  Pallavicino  replied: 

"This  seems  to  me  not  art  but  mere  deceit;  nor  do  I  think 
it  fitting  for  him  who  would  be  a  man  of  honour,  ever  to  de- 

"  It  is  an  embellishment,  which  graces  what  he  does,"  said 
miesser  Federico,  "rather  than  deceit;  and  even  if  it  be  deceit,  it 
is  not  to  be  censured.  Will  you  not  also  say  that  of  two  men 
fencing,  the  one  who  touches  the  other,  deceives  him?  And 
this  is  because  the  one  has  more  art  than  the  other.  And  if  you 
have  a  jewel  that  is  beautiful  without  setting,  and  it  afterwards 
comes  into  the  hands  of  a  good  goldsmith,  who  by  skilful  setting 
makes  it  look  far  more  beautiful,  will  you  not  say  that  this  gold- 
smith deceives  the  eyes  of  anyone  who  sees  it  ?  And  yet  he  deserves 
praise  for  his  deceit,  for  with  good  judgment  and  art  his  master 
hand  often  adds  grace  and  beauty  to  ivory  or  silver,  or  to  a  beauti- 
ful stone  by  encircling  it  with  fine  gold.  Therefore  let  us  not  say 
that  art, — or  such  deceit  as  this,  if  you  will  call  it  so, — deserves 
any  censure. 

"  Nor  is  it  unseemly  for  a  man  who  is  conscious  of  doing 
something  well,  dexterously  to  seek  occasion  for  showing  him- 
self therein,  and  at  the  same  time  to  conceal  what  he  thinks 
undeserving  of  praise, — but  always  with  a  touch  of  wary  dis- 
simulation. Do  you  not  remember  that  without  appearing  to 
seek  them.  King  Ferdinand**  found  opportunities  now  and  then 
to  go  about  in  his  doublet?  and  this  because  he  felt  himself  to 
be  very  agile;  and  that,  as  his  hands  were  not  over  good,  he 
rarely  or  almost  never  took  off  his  gloves?  And  there  were 
very  few  that  perceived  his  cunning.  Moreover  I  think  I  have 
read  that  Julius  Caesar  liked  to  wear  the  laurel  wreath  to  hide 
his  baldness."*  But  in  all  these  matters  it  is  needful  to  be  very 
cautious  and  to  use  good  judgment,  in  order  not  to  go  beyond 
bounds;  for  in  avoiding  one  errour  a  man  often  runs  into 
another,  and  in  his  wish  to  win  praise,  receives  censure, 

41 — "  Hence  in  our  mode  of  life  and  conversation,  it  is  a  very 



safe  thing  to  govern  ourselves  v/ith  a  certain  decorous  dis- 
cretion, which  in  truth  is  a  very  great  and  very  strong  shield 
against  envy,  which  we  ought  to  avoid  as  much  as  possible. 
Moreover  I  wish  our  Courtier  to  guard  against  getting  the  name 
of  a  liar  or  a  boaster,  which  sometimes  befalls  even  those  who 
do  not  deserve  it.  Therefore  in  his  talk  let  him  always  take 
care  not  to  go  beyond  the  probable,  and  also  not  to  tell  too  often 
those  truths  that  have  the  look  of  falsehood,"* — like  many  who 
never  speak  save  of  miracles,  and  wish  to  carry  such  authority' 
that  every  incredible  thing  shall  be  believed  from  them.  Others, 
at  the  beginning  of  a  friendship  and  in  order  to  gain  favour  with 
their  new  friend,  swear  the  first  day  they  speak  with  him  that 
there  is  no  one  in  the  world  whom  they  love  more  than  him,  and 
that  they  would  gladly  die  to  do  him  service,  and  like  things  be- 
yond reason.  And  when  they  part  from  him,  they  pretend  to 
weep  and  to  be  unable  to  speak  a  word  from  grief.  Thus,  in 
their  wish  to  be  thought  very  loving,  they  come  to  be  esteemed 
liars  and  silly  flatterers. 

"  But  it  would  be  too  long  and  tedious  to  recount  all  the  faults 
that  may  be  committed  in  our  manner  of  conversation.  Hence 
as  regards  what  I  desire  in  the  Courtier,  let  it  suffice  to  say,  be- 
sides the  things  already  said,  that  he  should  be  of  such  sort  as 
never  to  be  without  something  to  say  that  is  good  and  well 
suited  to  those  with  whom  he  is  speaking,  and  that  he  should 
know  how  to  refresh  the  minds  of  his  hearers  w^ith  a  certain 
sweetness,  and  by  his  amusing  witticisms  and  pleasantries  to 
move  them  cleverly  to  mirth  and  laughter,  so  that  without  ever 
becoming  tedious  or  producing  satiety,  he  may  give  pleasure 

42.— "At  last  I  think  my  lady  Emilia  will  give  me  leave  to  be 
silent.  And  if  she  refuse  me,  I  shall  by  my  own  talk  stand  con- 
victed of  not  being  the  good  Courtier  whereof  I  have  spoken-  for 
not  only  does  good  talk  (which  perhaps  you  have  neither  now 
nor  ever  heard  from  me),  but  even  such  talk  as  I  usually  have  at 
command  (whatever  that  may  be  worth),  quite  fail  me." 

Then  my  lord  Prefect  said,  laughing: 

"  I  am  not  willing  to  let  this  false  opinion, — that  you  are  not  a 
most  admirable  Courtier, — rest  in  the  mind  of  any  of  us;  for  it  is 


certain  that  your  desire  to  be  silent  proceeds  rather  from  a  wish 
to  escape  labour  than  from  lack  of  something  to  say.  So,  to  the 
end  that  nothing  may  seem  to  be  neglected  in  such  worthy  com- 
pany as  this  and  such  admirable  talk,  be  pleased  to  teach  us  how 
we  must  employ  the  pleasantries  that  you  have  just  mentioned, 
and  to  show  us  the  art  that  pertains  to  all  this  kind  of  amus- 
ing talk,  so  as  to  excite  laughter  and  mirth  in  gentle  fashion; 
for  indeed  methinks  it  is  very  important  and  well  befitting  the 

"  My  Lord,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  pleasantries  and  witti- 
cisms are  the  gift  and  grace  of  nature  rather  than  of  art;  but  in 
this  matter  certain  nations  are  to  be  found  more  ready  than 
others,  like  the  Tuscans,  who  in  truth  are  very  clever.  It 
seems  to  me  that  the  use  of  witticism  is  very  natural  to  the 
Spaniards  too.  Yet  there  are  many,both  of  these  and  of  all  other 
nations,  who  from  over  loquacity  sometimes  go  beyond  bounds 
and  become  silly  and  pointless,  because  they  do  not  consider  the 
kind  of  person  with  whom  they  are  speaking,  the  place  where 
they  are,  the  occasion,  or  the  soberness  and  modesty  which  they 
ought  above  all  things  to  maintain." 

43-— Then  my  lord  Prefect  replied: 

"  You  deny  that  there  is  any  art  in  pleasantries,  and  yet  by 
speaking  ill  of  those  who  use  them  not  with  modesty  and  sober- 
ness and  who  regard  not  the  occasion  and  the  persons  with  whom 
they  are  speaking,  methinks  you  show  that  even  this  can  be 
taught  and  has  some  method  in  it." 

•'  These  rules,  my  Lord,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  are  so 
universal  that  they  fit  and  apply  to  everything.  But  I  said 
there  is  no  art  in  pleasantries,  because  I  think  there  are  only 
two  kinds  of  them  to  be  found:  one  of  which  stretches  out  in 
long  and  continuous  talk,  as  we  see  in  the  case  of  certain  men 
who  narrate  and  describe  so  gracefully  and  amusingly  some- 
thing that  has  happened  to  them  or  that  they  have  seen  or 
heard,  that  they  set  it  before  our  eyes  with  gestures  and  words 
and  almost  make  us  touch  it  with  the  hand;  and  for  lack  of 
other  word,  we  may  perhaps  call  this  the  humourous  or  urbane 
manner.  The  other  kind  of  witticism  is  very  short,  and  con- 
sists solely  in  sayings  that  are  quick  and  sharp,  such  as  are 



often  heard  among  us,  or  biting;  nor  are  they  acceptable  unless 
they  sting  a  little.  By  the  ancients  also  they  were  called  apo- 
thegms: at  present  some  call  them  argusie.^'^ 

"  So  I  say  that  in  the  first  kind,  which  is  humourous  narrative, 
there  is  no  need  of  any  art,  because  nature  herself  creates  and 
fashions  men  fitted  to  narrate  amusingly,  and  gives  them  fea- 
tures, gestures,  voice  and  words  proper  to  imitate  what  they 
will.  In  the  other  kind,  that  of  argusie,  what  can  art  avail? 
For  whatever  it  be,  a  pungent  saying  must  dart  forth  and  hit  the 
mark  before  he  who  utters  it  shall  seem  to  have  given  it  a 
thought;  otherwise  it  is  flat  and  has  no  savour.  Therefore  I 
think  it  is  all  the  work  of  intellect  and  nature." 

Then  messer  Pietro  Bembo  took  up  the  talk,  and  said: 

"  My  lord  Prefect  does  not  deny  what  you  say,  that  nature 
and  intellect  play  the  chief  part,  especially  as  regards  concep- 
tion. Still  it  is  certain  that  every  man's  mind,  however  fine  his 
intellect  may  be,  conceives  both  good  things  and  bad,  and  more 
or  less;  yet  judgment  and  art  then  polish  and  correct  them,  and 
cull  out  the  good  and  reject  the  bad.  So  lay  aside  what  per- 
tains to  intellect,  and  explain  to  us  what  consists  in  art;  that  is, 
of  the  pleasantries  and  witticisms  that  excite  laughter,  tell  us 
what  are  befitting  the  Courtier  and  what  are  not,  and  in  what 
time  and  way  they  should  be  used;  for  this  is  what  my  lord 
Prefect  asks  of  you." 

44— Then  messer  Federico  said  laughingly: 

•*  There  is  no  one  of  us  here  to  whom  I  do  not  yield  in  every- 
thing, and  especially  in  being  jocular;  unless  perhaps  nonsense, 
which  often  makes  others  laugh  more  than  bright  sayings,  be 
also  counted  as  pleasantry."  And  then  turning  to  Count  Ludo- 
vico  and  to  messer  Bernardo  Bibbiena,  he  said:  "Here  are  the 
masters  of  witticism,  from  whom  I  must  first  learn  what  to  say 
if  I  am  to  speak  of  jocose  sayings."'" 

Count  Ludovico  replied: 

"  Methinks  you  are  already  beginning  to  practise  what  you 
say  you  know  nothing  of,  I  mean  in  that  you  try  to  make  these 
gentlemen  laugh  by  ridiculing  messer  Bernardo  and  me;  for 
every  one  of  them  knows  you  far  excel  us  in  that  for  which  you 
praise  us.     If  you  are  fatigued,  then,  you  had  better  beg  my  lady 



Duchess  to  postpone  the  rest  of  our  talk  until  to-morrow,  instead 
of  trying  to  escape  fatigue  by  subterfuge." 

Messer  Federico  began  to  make  answer,  but  my  lady  Emilia 
quickly  interrupted  him  and  said: 

"  It  is  not  in  order  for  the  discussion  to  spend  itself  in  your 
praises;  it  is  enough  that  you  are  all  well  known.  But  as  I 
remember.  Sir  Count,  that  you  accused  me  last  evening  of  not 
distributing  the  labour  equally,  it  were  well  to  let  messer  Fed- 
erico rest  awhile,  and  to  give  messer  Bernardo  Bibbiena  the 
task  of  speaking  about  pleasantries,  because  we  not  only  know 
him  to  be  very  amusing  in  continuous  talk,  but  we  remember 
that  he  has  several  times  promised  us  to  try  to  write  upon  this 
subject,  and  hence  we  may  believe  that  he  has  already  thought 
much  about  it,  and  therefore  ought  to  satisfy  us  fully.  After- 
wards, when  we  have  finished  discussing  pleasantries,  messer 
Federico  shall  go  on  with  what  he  has  left  to  say  about  the 

Thereupon  messer  Federico  said: 

'♦My  Lady,  I  do  not  know  what  I  have  left  to  say;  but  like 
the  wayfarer  at  noon,  weary  with  the  fatigue  of  his  long  jour- 
ney, I  will  refresh  myself  with  messer  Bernardo's  talk  and  the 
sound  of  his  words,  as  if  under  some  delightful  and  shady  tree, 
with  the  soft  murmur  of  a  plashing  spring.  Then  perhaps,  being 
revived  a  little,  I  shall  be  able  to  say  something  more." 

Messer  Bernardo  replied,  laughing: 

"  If  I  show  you  my  head,  you  shall  see  what  shade  is  to  be 
expected  from  the  leafage  of  my  tree."*  As  for  listening  to  the 
murmur  of  that  plashing  spring,  perhaps  you  may;  for  I  was 
once  turned  into  a  spring,  not  by  any  of  the  ancient  gods  but  by 
our  friend  Fra  Mariano,*"  and  I  have  never  stood  in  need  of 
water  from  then  till  now." 

Then  everyone  began  to  laugh,  for  this  pleasantry  referred  to 
by  messer  Bernardo  happened  at  Rome  in  the  presence  of  Car- 
dinal Galeotto  of  San  Pietro  ad  Vincula,'*"  and  was  well  known 
to  all. 

45'— The  laughter  having  ceased,  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"  Now  stop  making  us  laugh  by  your  use  of  pleasantries,  and 
teach  us  how  we  are  to  use  them,  and  from  what  they  are 


Reduced  from  Braun's  photograph  (no.  4^158)  of  the  portrait,  in  the  Pitti  Gallery  at 
Florence,  long  attributed  to  Raphael  (1483-1520),  but  regarded  by  Morelli  as  the  work 
of  a  pupil. 


derived,  and  all  you  know  about  the  subject.     And  to  lose  no 
more  time,  begin  at  once." 

"  I  fear," said  messer  Bernardo,  "that  the  hour  is  late;  and  to 
the  end  that  my  talk  about  pleasantries  may  not  itself  lack 
pleasantry  and  be  tedious,  perhaps  it  will  be  well  to  postpone  it 
until  to-morrow." 

Here  many  replied  together  that  it  was  still  far  from  the 
usual  hour  for  ending  the  discussion.  Then,  turning  to  my  lady 
Duchess  and  to  my  lady  Emilia,  messer  Bernardo  said: 

"  I  do  not  wish  to  escape  this  task;  although,  just  as  I  am  wont 
to  marvel  at  the  presumption  of  those  who  venture  to  sing  to  the 
viol  before  our  friend  Giacomo  Sansecondo,™  so  I  ought  not  to 
talk  about  pleasantries  before  an  audience  who  understand 
what  I  should  say  far  better  than  I. 

"  However,  not  to  give  any  of  these  gentlemen  a  pretext  for 
refusing  the  charge  that  may  be  laid  upon  them,  I  will  tell  as 
briefly  as  I  can  what  occurs  to  me  concerning  the  causes  thaj_ 
^x cite  laughter;  which  is  so  peculiar  to  us  that  in  defining  man 
we  are  wont  to  say  that  he  is  a  laughing  animal.  For  laughter 
is  found  only  among  men,  and  is  nearly  always  the  sign  of  a 
certain  hilarity  felt  inwardly  in  the  mind,  which  is  by  nature 
drawn  towards  amusement  and  longs  for  repose  and  recreation; 
wherefore  we  see  many  things  devised  by  men  to  this  end,  such 
as  festivals  and  different  kinds  of  shows.  And  since  we  love 
those  who  furnish  us  this  recreation,  it  was  the  custom  of  an- 
cient rulers  (Roman,  Athenian  and  many  others),  in  order  to 
gain  the  people's  good  will  and  to  feast  the  eyes  and  minds  of 
the  multitude,  to  erect  great  theatres  and  other  public  edifices, 
and  therein  to  exhibit  new  sports,  horse  and  chariot  races,  com- 
bats, strange  beasts,  comedies,  tragedies  and  mimes.  Nor  were 
such  shows  eschewed  by  grave  philosophers,  who  in  sports  of 
this  kind  and  banquets  often  relaxed  their  minds  when  fatigued 
by  lofty  discourse  and  spiritual  meditation;  which  thing  all  kinds 
of  men  also  like  to  do:  for  not  only  toilers  in  the  field,  sailors, 
and  all  those  who  perform  hard  and  rough  labour  with  their 
hands,  but  holy  priests,  and  prisoners  awaiting  death  from  hour 
to  hour,  all  seek  continually  some  remedy  and  solace  for  their 
refreshment.  Hence  everything  that  moves  to  laughter,  cheers 


the  mind  and  gives  pleasure,  and  for  the  moment  frees  us  from 
the  memory  of  those  weary  troubles  of  which  our  life  is  full.  So 
laughter,  as  you  see,  is  very  delightful  to  all,  and  greatly  to  be 
praised  is  he  who  excites  it  reasonably  and  in  a  graceful  way. 

"  But  what  laughter  is,  and  where  it  abides,  and  how  it  some- 
times seizes  upon  our  veins,  eyes,  mouths  and  sides,  and  seems  as 
if  it  would  make  us  burst,  so  that  with  all  our  effort  it  cannot  be 
restrained, —  I  will  leave  Democritus  to  tell,  who  could  not  even 
if  he  were  to  promise.'" 

46 "  Now  the  occasion  and  as  it  were  the  source  from  which 

the  laughable  springs,  lies  in  a  kind  of  distortion;  for  we  laugh 
only  at  those  things  that  have  incongruity  in  them  and  that 
seem  amiss  without  being  so.  I  know  not  how  to  explain  it 
otherwise;  but  if  you  think  of  it  yourselves,  you  will  see  that 
what  we  laugh  at  is  nearly  always  something  that  is  incon- 
gruous and  yet  is  not  amiss. 

"  Next  I  will  try  to  tell  you,  as  far  as  my  judgment  shall  show 
me,  what  the  means  are  that  the  Courtier  ought  to  use  for 
the  purpose  of  exciting  laughter,  and  within  what  bounds; 
because  it  is  not  seemly  for  the  Courtier  to  be  always  making 
men  laugh,  nor  yet  by  those  means  that  are  made  use  of 
by  fools  or  drunken  men,  by  the  silly,  the  nonsensical,  and 
likewise  by  buffoons.  And  although  these  kinds  of  men  seem 
to  be  in  demand  at  courts,  yet  they  deserve  not  to  be  called 
Courtiers,  but  each  by  his  own  name,  and  to  be  held  for  what 
they  are. 

"  Moreover  we  must  diligently  consider  the  bounds  and  limits 
of  exciting  laughter  by  derision,  and  who  it  is  we  deride;  for 
laughter  is  not  aroused  by  jeering  at  a  poor  unfortunate  nor  yet 
at  an  open  rascal  and  blackguard,  because  the  latter  seems  to 
merit  greater  punishment  than  that  of  being  ridiculed,  and  the 
mind  of  man  is  not  prone  to  flout  the  wretched,  unless  they  boast 
of  their  wretchedness  and  are  proud  and  saucy.  We  ought  also 
to  treat  with  respect  those  who  are  universal  favourites  and  be- 
loved by  all  and  powerful,  for  by  jeering  at  these  persons  a  man 
may  sometimes  bring  dangerous  enmities  upon  himself.  Yet  it 
is  proper  to  flout  and  laugh  at  the  vices  of  those  who  are  neither 
so  wretched  as  to  excite  pity,  nor  so  wicked  as  to  seem  worthy 



of  capital  punishment,  nor  so  great  that  a  touch  of  their  wrath 
can  do  much  harm. 

47-— "Again,  you  must  know  that  from  the  same  occasion 
whence  we  draw  our  laughable  witticisms,  we  may  likewise 
draw  serious  phrases  of  praise  or  censure,  and  sometimes  by 
using  the  same  words.  Thus  in  praising  a  generous  man  who 
shares  all  he  has  with  his  friends,  we  are  wont  to  say  that  what 
he  has  is  not  his  own;  the  same  may  be  said  in  censuring  a  man 
who  has  stolen  or  by  other  evil  means  acquired  what  he  pos- 
sesses. Also  we  say,  '  That  lady  is  of  great  price,'  meaning  to 
praise  her  for  discretion  and  goodness;  the  same  thing  might  be 
said  in  dispraise  of  her,  implying  that  anyone  may  have  her. 

"  But  for  this  purpose  we  have  a  chance  to  use  the  same 
situations  oftener  than  the  same  words.  Thus  recently  a  lady 
being  at  mass  in  church  with  three  cavaliers,  one  of  whom 
served  her  in  love,""  a  poor  beggar  came  up  and  taking  his  stand 
before  the  lady  began  to  beg  alms  of  her;  and  he  repeated  his 
petition  several  times  to  her  with  much  importunity  and  pitiful 
groaning;  yet  for  all  that  she  gave  him  no  alms,  nor  still  did  she 
refuse  it  to  him  with  a  sign  to  go  in  peace,  but  continued  to 
stand  abstracted  as  if  she  were  thinking  of  something  else. 
Then  the  cavalier  in  love  said  to  his  two  companions: 

"'You  see  what  I  have  to  expect  from  my  lady,  who  is  so  hard- 
hearted that  she  not  only  gives  no  alms  to  that  naked  starving 
wretch  who  is  begging  it  of  her  so  eagerly  and  often,  but  she 
will  not  even  send  him  away.  So  much  does  she  delight  to  see 
a  man  languishing  in  misery  before  her  and  vainly  imploring  her 


"One  of  his  two  friends  replied: 

" '  This  is  not  hardness  of  heart,  but  a  silent  lesson  from  the 

lady  to  teach  you  that  she  is  "pypr  jOpjigp^Hjaritb  an  impnrtnngtp- 


"  The  other  replied: 

" '  Nay,  it  is  a  warning  to  him  that  while  she  never  grants 
what  is  asked  of  her,  still  she  likes  to  be  entreated  for  it.' 

"  You  see  how  the  lady's  failure  to  send  the^ggr  man  away^^ 
gave   rise   to   one   saying   of  grave   censure,   one  of  moderate 
praise,  and  another  of  biting  satire. 


48.— "  Proceeding  now  to  declare  the  kinds  of  pleasantries 
that  are  pertinent  to  our  subject,  I  say  that  in  my  opinion 
there  are  three  varieties,  although  messer  Federico  mentioned 
only  two:  namely,  that  which  consists  in  rendering  the  effect 
of  a  thing  by  means  of  urbane  and  amusing  long  narrative,  and 
that  which  consists  in  the  swift^ndJceen_reAdiness  of  a  single 
phrase.  But  we  will  add^iPthird  sort  called  practical  joking, 
in  which  long  narratives  and  short  sayings  have  place,  and  also 
some  action. 

"  Now  the  first,  which  consists  in  continuous  talk,  is  of  such 
sort  as  almost  to  amount  to  story-telling.  And  to  give  you  an 
instance:  just  at  the  time  when  Pope  Alexander  the  Sixth  died 
and  Pius  the  Third  was  created  pope,™  your  fellow  Mantuan, 
my  lady  Duchess,  messer  Antonio  Agnello,'"  being  at  Rome  and 
in  the  palace,  happened  to  speak  of  the  death  of  the  one  pope 
and  of  the  other's  creation,  and  in  discussing  this  with  some  of 
his  friends,  he  said: 

" '  My  Lords,  even  in  the  days  of  Catullus'"  doors  began  to 
speak  without  a  tongue  and  to  listen  without  ears,  and  thus  to 
reveal  adulteries.  Now,  although  men  are  not  of  such  worth  as 
they  were  in  those  times,  it  may  be  that  the  doors  (many  of 
which  are  made  of  antique  marbles,  at  least  here  in  Rome)  have 
the  same  powers  that  they  then  had;  and  for  my  part  I  believe 
that  these  two  here  could  clear  away  all  our  doubts  if  we  cared 
to  learn  from  them.' 

"  Then  the  gentlemen  present  were  very  curious,  and  waited 
to  see  how  the  affair  was  going  to  end.  Whereupon  messer 
Antonio,  continuing  to  walk  up  and  down,  raised  his  eyes  as  if 
by  chance  to  one  of  the  two  doors  of  the  hall  in  which  they  were 
strolling,  stopped  a  moment,  and  pointed  out  to  his  companions 
the  inscription  over  it,  which  was  the  name  of  Pope  Alexander, 
followed  by  a  V  and  an  I,  signifying  Sixth  as  you  know ;  and  he 

"«See  what  the  door  says:  Alessandro  Papa  vi,  which  means 
that  he  became  pope  by  the  violence  that  he  used,  and  that  he 
accomplished  more  by  violence  than  by  reason.  Now  let  us  see 
if  from  the  other  we  can  learn  anything  about  the  new  pope.' 
And  turning  to  the  other  door  as  if  by  accident,  he  showed  the 



inscription,  N  PP  V,  which  signified  Nicolaus  Papa  Quintus;"" 
and  he  at  once  said:  'Alas,  bad  news;  this  one  says,  Nihil  Papa 

49 — "  Now  you  see  how  elegant  and  admirable  this  kind  of 
pleasantry  is,  and  how  becoming  to  a  Courtier,  whether  the  thing 
that  is  said  be  true  or  not;  because  in  such  a  case  it  is  allow- 
able for  a  man  to  fabricate  as  much  as  he  pleases,  without 
blame;  and  in  speaking  the  truth,  to  adorn  it  with  a  little  falsity, 
overstating  or  understating  as  the  occasion  requires.  But  in 
these  matters  perfect  grace  and  true  cleverness  consist  in  pictur- 
ing forth  what  we  wish  to  say,  with  both  word  and  gesture,  so 
well  and  with  such  ease  that  they  who  hear  may  seem  to  see 
before  their  eyes  the  thing  we  tell  them.  And  this  graphic 
method  is  so  effective  that  it  sometimes  adorns  and  makes  highly 
amusing  a  thing  that  in  itself  is  neither  very  jocular  nor  clever. 

"  And  although  this  kind  of  narrative  requires  gesture  and  the 
aid  of  the  speaking  voice,  its  quality  is  sometimes  found  in  writ- 
ten compositions  also.  Who  does  not  laugh,  when,  in  the  Eighth 
Day  of  his  Decameron,'"  Giovanni  Boccaccio  tells  how  the  priest 
of  Varlungo  tried  to  chant  a  Kyrie  and  a  Sancttis  on  discovering 
that  his  Belcolore  was  in  the  church.  There  are  amusing  nar- 
ratives also  in  his  stories  of  Calandrino,""  and  in  many  others. 
Of  the  same  sort  seems  to  be  the  raising  of  a  laugh  by  mimicry 
or  imitation,  as  we  say, —  wherein  I  have  thus  far  seen  no  one 
more  admirable  than  our  friend  messer  Roberto  da  Bari."" 

50.— «  This  would  be  no  small  praise,"  said  messer  Roberto,  "  if 
it  were  true;  because  I  should  of  course  try  to  imitate  the  good 
rather  than  the  bad,  and  if  I  could  make  myself  like  some  men  I 
know,  I  should  deem  myself  very  fortunate.  I  fear,  however,  that 
I  know  how  to  imitate  only  those  things  which  excite  laughter, 
and  which  you  just  now  said  consist  essentially  in  the  imperfect." 

Messer  Bernardo  replied: 

"Imperfect,  yes;  but  not  unpleasantly  so.  And  you  must 
know  that  this  imitation  of  which  we  are  speaking,  cannot  be 
without  cleverness;  for  besides  the  way  of  governing  words  and 
gestures  and  setting  before  our  hearers'  eyes  the  face  and  man- 
ners of  the  man  we  are  speaking  of,  we  must  needs  be  discreet, 
and  pay  great  heed  to  the  place  and  time,  and  to  the  persons 


v/ith  whom  we  are  speaking,  and  not  descend  to  buffoonery  or 
go  beyond  bounds; — which  rules  you  observe  admirably  and 
therefore  know  them  all,  I  think.  For  in  truth  it  would  little 
befit  a  gentleman  to  make  faces,  to  weep  and  laugh,  and  mimic 
voices,  to  wrestle  with  himself  as  Berto"*  does,  or  dress  like  a 
clown  before  everyone,  like  Strascino,'" — and  things  of  that  kind, 
which  are  very  fitting  in  those  men  because  it  is  their  profession. 

"  But  for  us  it  is  needful  to  give  only  a  fleeting  and  covert  imi- 
tation, always  preserving  the  dignity  of  a  gentleman,  without 
uttering  foul  words  or  performing  acts  that  are  less  than  seemly, 
without  contorting  the  face  or  person  beyond  measure;  but  to 
order  our  movements  in  such  fashion  that  whoever  hears  and 
sees  us  may  from  our  words  and  gestures  imagine  far  more  than 
what  he  sees  and  hears,  and  so  be  moved  to  laughter. 

"  Moreover  in  our  imitation  we  ought  to  avoid  too  stinging 
jibes,  especially  at  deformities  of  face  or  person;  for  while 
bodily  defects  often  furnish  excellent  material  for  laughter  to  a 
man  who  uses  them  with  discretion,  yet  to  employ  this  method 
too  bitterly  is  the  act  not  only  of  a  buffoon  but  of  an  enemy.  So, 
although  it  be  difficult,  in  this  regard  we  must,  as  I  have  said, 
keep  to  the  manner  of  our  friend  messer  Roberto,  who  mimics 
all  men  and  not  without  marking  their  defects  sharply  even  to 
their  face,  and  yet  no  one  is  annoyed  or  seems  to  take  it  amiss. 
And  I  will  give  no  instance  of  this,  because  in  him  we  see  count- 
less examples  of  it  every  day. 

51.—"  Another  thing  excites  much  laughter,  although  it  is  in- 
cluded under  the  head  of  narration;  and  that  is  to  describe 
gracefully  certain  defects  of  others, — unimportant  ones  however 
and  undeserving  greater  punishment,  such  as  follies,  sometimes 
mere  absurdities  or  sometimes  accompanied  by  a  quick  and 
pungent  dash  of  liveliness;  likewise  certain  extreme  affectations; 
sometimes  a  huge  and  well-constructed  lie.  As  when,  a  few  days 
since,  our  friend  Cesare  told  of  a  delightful  absurdity,  which  was 
that  finding  himself  before  the  Podest^  of  this  place,™  he  saw  a 
peasant  come  in  to  complain  of  being  robbed  of  a  donkey.  The 
fellow  told  of  his  poverty  and  of  the  trick  played  upon  him  by 
the  thief,  and  then,  to  make  out  his  loss  the  heavier,  he  said: 
*  Masters,  If  you  had  seen  my  donkey,  you  would  have  better  un- 



derstood  how  much  cause  I  have  to  grieve;  for  when  he  had  his 
pack  on,  he  looked  like  a  very  Tullius.'"" 

"  And  one  of  our  friends,  meeting  a  flock  of  goats  with  a  great 
he-goat  at  their  head,  stopped  and  said  with  a  look  of  admira- 
tion: '  See  what  a  he-goat!     He  looks  like  a  Saint  Paul.'""" 

"  My  lord  Caspar  tells  of  having  known  an  old  servant  of 
Duke  Ercole  of  Ferrara,""  who  off"ered  the  duke  his  two  sons 
as  pages;  but  before  they  could  begin  their  service,  both  the 
boys  died.  "When  the  duke  heard  this,  he  condoled  with  the 
father  kindly,  saying  that  he  was  very  sorry,  for  the  only  time 
when  he  had  seen  them,  they  had  seemed  to  him  very  pretty 
and  gentle  boys.  The  father  replied:  'My  Lord,  you  saw  no- 
thing; for  within  the  last  few  days  they  had  grown  far  hand- 
somer and  more  virtuous  than  I  could  possibly  have  believed, 
and  already  they  sang  together  like  two  sparrow-hawks.' 

"  And  not  long  since  one  of  our  doctors  stood  looking  at  a 
man  who  had  been  condemned  to  be  flogged  about  the  piazza, 
and  taking  pity  on  him,  because  (although  his  shoulders  were 
bleeding  freely)  the  poor  wretch  walked  as  slowly  as  if  he  had 
been  out  for  a  stroll  to  pass  the  time,  the  doctor  said  to  him: 
*  Step  out,  poor  fellow,  and  make  haste  to  be  done  with  your 
pain.'  Whereat  the  goodman  turned,  and  gazing  at  the  doctor 
as  if  amazed,  he  stood  awhile  without  speaking,  and  then  said: 
'  W^hen  you  come  to  be  flogged,  you  will  go  your  own  gait;  so  I 
choose  to  go  mine  now.' 

"  You  surely  must  still  remember  that  absurd  story  which  my 
lord  Duke'  lately  told  of  a  certain  abbot,  who,  being  present  one 
day  when  Duke  Federico'"  was  discussing  what  to  do  with  the 
great  mass  of  earth  that  had  been  excavated  to  lay  the  founda- 
tions of  this  palace,  which  was  then  building,  said:  '  My  Lord,  I 
have  thought  of  an  excellent  place  to  put  it.  Give  orders  to  have 
an  immense  pit  made,  and  it  can  be  put  in  without  further  diffi- 
culty.' Duke  Federico  replied,  not  without  laughter:  'And 
where  shall  we  put  the  earth  to  be  dug  out  of  this  pit  of 
yours?'  The  abbot  continued:  'Have  it  made  large  enough  to 
hold  both.'  And  so,  for  all  the  duke  repeated  several  times  that 
the  larger  the  pit  was  made,  the  more  earth  would  be  dug  out 
of  it,  the  man  could  never  get  it  into  his  brain  that  it  could  not  be 


made  large  enough  to  hold  both,  and  kept  replying:  « Make  it  so 
much  the  larger.*     Now  you  see  what  good  judgment  this  abbot 
52.— Then  messer  Pietro  Bembo  said: 

"  And  why  do  you  not  tell  the  story  of  your  friend  the  Floren- 
tine commander  who  was  besieged  in  Castellina*"*  by  the  Duke 
of  Calabria?  Finding  one  day  some  poisoned  crossbow  missiles 
that  had  been  shot  in  from  the  camp,  he  wrote  to  the  duke  that 
if  the  warfare  was  to  be  carried  on  so  barbarously,  he  too  would 
have  medicine  put  on  his  cannon  shot,  and  then  woe  to  the  one 
who  had  the  worst  of  it.'""" 

Messer  Bernardo  laughed,  and  said: 

"  Messer  Pietro,  if  you  do  not  hold  your  peace,  I  will  tell 
all  the  things  I  have  seen  and  heard  about  your  dear  Vene- 
tians (which  are  not  few),  and  especially  when  they  try  to  play 
the  horseman." 

"  Do  not  so,  I  beg  of  you,"  replied  messer  Pietro,  "  and  I 
will  keep  quiet  about  two  other  delightful  tales  that  I  know  of 
the  Florentines."™ 

Messer  Bernardo  said: 

"  They  must  have  rather  been  Sienese,  who  often  slip  in  this 
way;  as  was  recently  the  case  with  one,  who,  on  hearing  some 
letters  read  in  council  wherein  the  phrase  '  the  aforesaid '  was 
used  (to  avoid  such  frequent  repetition  of  the  name  of  the  man 
who  was  spoken  of),  said  to  the  man  who  was  reading:  'Stop 
there  a  moment  and  tell  me,  is  this  Aforesaid  a  friend  to  our 

Messer  Pietro  laughed,  then  said: 

"  I  am  speaking  of  Florentines,  not  of  Sienese." 

"  Speak  out  freely  then,"  added  my  lady  Emilia,  "  and  do  not 
stand  so  much  on  ceremony." 

Messer  Pietro  continued: 

"  When  the  Florentine  Signory  was  waging  war  against  the 
Pisans,*"  they  sometimes  found  their  money  exhausted  by  their 
great  expenses;  and  the  method  of  finding  money  for  daily 
needs  being  discussed  in  council  one  day,  after  many  ways  had 
been  proposed,  one  of  the  oldest  citizens  said:  '  I  have  thought 
of  two  methods  whereby  we  could  soon  get  a  goodly  sum  of 



money  without  much  trouble.  And  one  of  these  is,  that  since 
we  have  no  revenue  greater  than  from  the  customs  levied  at  the 
gates  of  Florence,  and  since  we  have  eleven  gates,  let  us  at  once 
have  eleven  more  made,  and  thus  we  shall  double  our  revenue. 
The  other  method  is  to  give  orders  that  the  mints  be  forthwith 
opened  in  Pistoia  and  Prato,™*  just  the  same  as  in  Florence,  and 
that  nothing  be  done  there  day  and  night  but  mint  money,  and 
that  all  the  money  be  ducats  of  gold;  and  in  my  judgment  this 
course  is  the  quicker  and  the  less  costly.' " 

53— There  was  much  laughter  at  this  citizen's  keen  sagacity: 
and  the  laughter  being  quieted,  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"  Messer  Bernardo,  will  you  allow  messer  Pietro  to  ridi- 
cule the  Florentines  in  this  fashion,  without  returning  blow  for 

"  I  forgive  him  this  affront,"  replied  messer  Bernardo,  still 
laughing,  "for  if  he  has  displeased  me  by  ridiculing  the  Floren- 
tines, he  has  pleased  me  by  obeying  you,  as  I  also  would  always 

Then  messer  Cesare  said: 

"  I  heard  a  delightful  blunder  made  by  a  Brescian  who  had 
been  at  Venice  this  year  for  the  feast  of  the  Ascension,  and  in 
my  presence  was  describing  to  some  of  his  companions  the  fine 
things  that  he  had  seen  there;  and  how  much  merchandise  there 
was,  and  how  much  silverware,  spices,  cloth  and  stuffs;  then  the 
Signory  went  forth  with  great  pomp  to  wed  the  sea  in  the  Bucen- 
taur,™  on  board  of  which  there  were  so  many  finely  dressed  gentle- 
men, so  much  music  and  singing,  that  it  seemed  a  paradise.  And 
on  being  asked  by  one  of  his  companions  which  kind  of  music  he 
liked  best  among  those  that  he  had  heard,  he  said:  'They  all  were 
good;  but  among  the  rest  I  saw  a  man  playing  on  a  certain  strange 
trumpet,  which  he  thrust  down  his  throat  more  than  two  palms 
at  every  flourish,  and  then  he  straightway  drew  it  out  and  thrust 
it  down  again;  so  that  you  never  saw  a  greater  marvel.'" 

Then  everyone  laughed,  perceiving  the  silly  mistake  of  the 
man,  who  had  imagined  that  the  player  thrust  down  his  throat 
that  part  of  the  trombone  which  disappears  by  sliding  into  itself. 

54 — Messer  Bernardo  then  continued: 

"  Moreover  common  affectations  are  tedious,  but  they  excite 



much  laughter  when  they  are  beyond  measure:  like  those  we 
sometimes  hear  from  certain  mouths  regarding  greatness  or 
courage  or  nobility;  or  sometimes  from  women,  regarding 
beauty  or  fastidiousness.  As  was  not  long  since  the  case  with  a 
lady  who  remained  sad  and  abstracted  at  some  great  festival; 
and  when  asked  what  she  was  thinking  about  that  should  make 
her  so  gloomy,  she  replied:  'I  was  thinking  of  a  matter  that 
troubles  me  greatly  whenever  it  occurs  to  me,  nor  can  I  lift  it 
from  my  heart;  and  this  is,  that  on  the  universal  Judgment  Day, 
when  all  men's  naked  bodies  must  rise  and  appear  before  the 
tribunal  of  Christ,  I  cannot  endure  the  distress  I  feel  at  the 
thought  that  my  body  will  have  to  be  seen  unclothed  among  the 
rest.'  Being  extravagant,  such  affectations  as  these  cause 
laughter  rather  than  tedium. 

"You  all  are  familiar  with  those  splendid  lies  so  well  com- 
posed that  they  move  to  laughter.  A  very  excellent  one  was 
but  lately  told  me  by  a  friend  of  ours  who  never  suffers  us  to  be 
without  them." 

55-— Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  said: 

"  Be  that  as  it  may,  it  cannot  be  more  excellent  or  more  inge- 
nious than  one  which  a  fellow-Tuscan  of  ours,  a  merchant  of 
Lucca,  affirmed  the  other  day  as  a  positive  fact." 

"  Tell  it  to  us,"  added  my  lady  Duchess. 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied,  laughing: 

"  This  merchant,  so  he  tells  the  story,  once  finding  himself  in 
Poland,  decided  to  buy  a  quantity  of  sables  with  the  intention  of 
carrying  them  into  Italy  and  making  great  profit  thereby.  And 
after  much  effort,  being  unable  to  enter  Muscovy  himself  (by 
reason  of  the  war  that  was  then  waging  between  the  King  of 
Poland  and  the  Duke  of  Muscovy),  he  arranged  with  the  help  of 
some  people  of  the  country,  that  on  an  appointed  day  certain 
Muscovite  merchants  should  come  with  their  sables  to  the  fron- 
tier of  Poland,  and  he  promised  to  be  there  in  order  to  strike  the 
bargain.  Accordingly,  proceeding  with  his  companions  towards 
Muscovy,  the  man  of  Lucca  reached  the  Dnieper,  which  he 
found  all  frozen  as  hard  as  marble,  and  saw  that  the  Muscovites 
(who  on  account  of  the  war  were  themselves  suspicious  of  the 
Poles)  were  already  on  the  other  bank,  but  approached  no 



nearer  than  the  width  of  the  river.  So,  having  recognized  each 
other,  the  Muscovites  after  some  signalling  began  to  speak  with 
a  loud  voice,  and  to  ask  the  price  that  they  wished  for  their 
sables;  but  such  was  the  extreme  cold  that  they  were  not  heard, 
for  before  reaching  the  other  bank  (where  the  man  of  Lucca 
and  his  interpreters  were)  the  words  froze  in  the  air,  and  re- 
mained there  frozen  and  caught  in  such  manner  that  the  Poles, 
who  knew  the  custom,  set  about  making  a  great  fire  in  the  very 
middle  of  the  river ;  because  to  their  thinking  that  was  the  limit 
reached  by  the  warm  voice  before  it  was  stopped  by  freezing, 
and  the  river  was  quite  solid  enough  to  bear  the  fire  easily.  So, 
when  this  was  done,  the  words  (which  had  remained  frozen  for 
the  space  of  an  hour)  in  due  course  began  to  melt  and  to  fall  in 
a  murmur,  like  snow  from  the  mountains  in  May;  and  thus  they 
were  at  once  heard  very  well,  although  the  men  had  already 
gone.  But  as  the  merchant  thought  that  the  words  asked  too 
high  a  price  for  the  sables,  he  would  not  accept  the  offer  and  so 
returned  without  them.""" 

56 — Thereupon  everyone  laughed,  and  messer  Bernardo  said: 
"Of  a  truth  the  story  I  wish  to  tell  you  is  not  so  ingenious; 
however  it  is  a  fine  one,  and  runs  as  follows: 

"  Speaking  a  few  days  since  of  the  country  or  World  recently 
discovered  by  the  Portuguese  mariners,"'  and  of  the  various  ani- 
mals and  other  things  which  they  bring  back  to  Portugal,  that 
friend  of  whom  I  told  you  affirmed  that  he  had  seen  a  monkey 
of  a  form  very  different  from  those  we  are  accustomed  to  see, 
which  played  chess  most  admirably.  And  among  other  occa- 
sions, the  gentleman  who  had  brought  her,  being  one  day  before 
the  King  of  Portugal'"  and  engaged  in  a  game  of  chess  with 
her,  the  monkey  made  several  moves  so  skilfully  as  to  press  him 
hard  and  at  last  checkmated  him.  Being  vexed,  as  all  are  wont 
to  be  who  lose  at  that  game,  the  gentleman  took  up  the  king- 
piece  (which  was  very  large,  such  as  the  Portuguese  use)  and 
gave  the  monkey  a  smart  blow  upon  the  head;  whereupon  she 
leaped  aside  crying  loudly,  and  seemed  to  ask  justice  of  the  king 
for  the  wrong  that  had  been  done  her.  Then  the  gentleman  invited 
her  to  play  again;  and  after  refusing  awhile  by  means  of  signs, 
she  finally  began  to  play  once  more,  and,  as  she  had  done  the 



first  time,  she  again  had  the  better  of  him.  At  last,  seeing  that 
she  would  be  able  to  checkmate  the  gentleman,  the  monkey 
tried  a  new  trick  to  guard  against  being  struck  again;  and  with- 
out showing  what  she  was  at,  she  quietly  put  her  right  paw 
under  the  gentleman's  left  elbow,  which  was  luxuriously  resting 
on  a  taffety'"  cushion,  and  (quickly  snatching  the  cushion)  with 
her  left  paw  she  at  the  same  time  checkmated  him  with  a  pawn, 
while  with  her  right  she  held  the  cushion  over  her  head  as  a 
shield  against  his  blows;  she  then  leaped  joyftilly  to  the  king  as 
if  to  parade  her  victory.  Now  you  see  how  wise,  wary  and  dis- 
creet the  monkey  was." 

Then  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  It  must  be  that  this  was  a  doctor  among  monkeys,  and  of 
great  authority;  and  I  think  that  the  Republic  of  Indian  Mon- 
keys sent  her  to  Portugal  to  make  a  name  in  a  foreign  land." 

Thereupon  everyone  laughed,  both  at  the  story  and  at  the  ad- 
dition given  to  it  by  messer  Cesare. 

57'— So,  continuing  the  discussion,  messer  Bernardo  said : 

"  You  have  now  heard  what  occurs  to  me  concerning  those 
pleasantries  that  render  the  effect  of  a  thing  by  continuous  talk; 
therefore  it  is  now  well  to  speak  of  those  that  consist  in  a  single 
saying  and  have  a  quick  keenness  compressed  into  a  phrase  or 
word.  And  just  as  in  the  first  kind, — that  of  humourous  talk,^ 
we  must  in  our  narrative  and  mimicry  avoid  resembling  buffoons 
and  parasites  and  those  who  make  others  laugh  by  their  sheer 
absurdities,  so  in  these  short  sayings  the  Courtier  must  take  care 
not  to  appear  malicious  and  spiteful,  and  not  to  utter  witticisms 
and  arguzie  solely  to  annoy  and  cut  to  the  quick;  because  for  the 
sin  of  their  tongue  such  men  often  suffer  in  all  their  members. 

58 — "  Now  of  the  ready  pleasantries  that  are  contained  in  a 
short  saying,  those  are  keenest  that  arise  from  ambiguity.  Yet 
they  do  not  always  move  to  laughter,  for  they  are  oftener  ap- 
plauded as  ingenious  than  as  comic.  As  was  said  a  few  days 
since  by  our  friend  messer  Annibal  Paleotto*"  to  someone  who 
was  recommending  a  tutor  to  teach  his  sons  grammar,  and  who, 
after  praising  the  tutor  as  very  learned,  said  that  by  way  of  sti- 
pend the  man.  desired  not  only  money  but  a  room  furnished  for 
living  and  sleeping,  because  he  had  no  letto  (bed):  whereupon 



messer  Annibal  at  once  replied:  'And  how  can  he  be  learned  if 
he  has  not  letto  (read)?'  You  see  how  well  he  played  upon  the 
double  meaning  of  the  phrase,  non  aver  letto  [to  have  no  bed,  or, 
not  to  have  read]. 

"  But  while  this  punning  witticism  has  much  sharpness, 
where  a  man  takes  words  in  a  sense  different  from  that  in  which 
everyone  else  takes  them,  it  seems  (as  I  have  said)  to  excite 
wonderment  rather  than  laughter,  except  when  it  is  combined 
with  some  other  kind  of  saying. 

"  Now  that  kind  of  witticism  which  is  most  used  to  excite 
laughter,  is  when  we  are  prepared  to  hear  one  thing  and  the 
speaker  says  another,  and  it  is  called  *the  unexpected.'  And 
if  punning  be  combined  with  this,  the  witticism  becomes  most 
spicy:  as  the  other  day,  when  there  was  a  discussion  about  mak- 
ing a  fine  brick  floor  (im  bel  inattonato)  for  my  lady  Duchess's 
closet,  after  much  talk  you,  Giancristoforo,  said:  '  If  we  could 
fetch  the  Bishop  of  Potenza'"  and  flatten  him  out  well,  it  would 
be  the  very  thing,  for  he  is  the  craziest  creature  born  {il  pin  bel 
matto  nato).'  Everyone  laughed  heartily,  for  by  dividing  the 
word  matto-nato  you  made  the  pun.  Moreover  saying  that 
it  would  be  well  to  flatten  out  a  bishop  and  lay  him  in  the  floor 
of  a  room,  w^as  unexpected  to  the  listener;  and  so  the  sally  was 
very  keen  and  laughable. 

59-—"  But  of  punning  witticisms  there  are  many  kinds; 
therefore  we  must  be  careful  and  play  very  lightly  with  our 
words,  and  avoid  those  that  make  the  sally  flat  or  that  seem 
forced;  and  also  those  (as  we  have  said)  that  are  too  biting. 
As  where  several  companions  found  themselves  at  the  house 
of  one  of  their  friends  who  was  blind  of  one  eye,  and  the  blind 
man  bade  the  company  stay  to  dinner,  all  took  their  leave  save 
one,  who  said:  'I  will  stay  with  you  because  I  see  you  have  a 
vacant  place  for  one;'  and  at  the  same  time  he  pointed  with  his 
finger  to  the  empty  socket.  You  see  this  is  too  bitter  and  rude, 
for  it  wounded  without  cause,  and  the  speaker  had  not  first  been 
stung  himself  Moreover  he  said  that  which  might  be  said  of  all 
blind  men;  and  such  universal  things  give  no  pleasure,  because 
it  seems  possible  that  they  may  have  been  thought  out  before- 
hand.    And  of  this  kind  was  that  gibe  at  a  man  without  nose: 



•And  where  do  you  hang  your  spectacles?""  or  *  With  what  do 
you  smell  the  roses  in  their  season?' 

60.—"  But  among  other  witticisms  those  have  very  good  grace 
that  are  made  by  taking  the  very  words  and  sense  from  another 
man's  taunt  and  turning  them  against  him  and  striking  him  with 
his  own  weapons;  as  where  a  litigant — whose  adversary  had 
said  to  him  in  the  judge's  presence:  •  Why  do  you  bark  so?' — at 
once  replied:  '  Because  I  see  a  thief.' 

"And  another  instance  of  this  was  when  Galeotto  da  Narni,"" 
on  his  way  through  Siena,  stopped  in  the  street  to  ask  for  the 
inn;  and  a  Sienese,  seeing  how  fat  he  was,  said,  laughing: 
'  Other  men  carry  their  wallets  behind,  but  this  one  carries  his  in 
front.'  Galeotto  at  once  replied:  *That  is  the  way  we  do  in  a 
land  of  thieves.' 

61.— "There  is  still  another  kind,  which  we  call  playing  on  words,'" 
and  this  consists  in  changing  a  word  by  either  adding  or  omitting 
a  letter  or  a  syllable;  as  when  someone  said:  'You  are  better 
versed  in  the  LatHn  tongue  than  in  the  Greek.'  And  you,  my 
Lady,  had  a  letter  addressed  to  you,  '  To  my  lady  Emilia  Im- 

"  Moreover  it  is  a  pleasant  thing  to  quote  a  verse  or  two,  ap- 
plying it  to  a  purpose  different  from  that  which  the  author  intends, 
or  some  other  familiar  saw;  sometimes  to  the  same  purpose,  but 
changing  some  word.  As  when  a  gentleman,  who  had  an  ugly 
and  disagreeable  wife,  was  asked  how  he  was,  he  replied :  'Judge 
yourself  of  my  state,  when  Furiarum  maxima  juxta  me  cubat.''^ 
And  messer  Geronimo  Donato,*"  while  going  the  rounds  of  the 
Stasioni'"  at  Rome  in  Lent  with  several  other  gentlemen,  met  a 
bevy  of  beautiful  Roman  ladies;  and  one  of  the  gentlemen  say- 
ing: '  Quot  coelum  stellas,  tot  hahet  tua  Roma  puellas,"^  he  at  once 
replied:  Pascua  quotque  haedos,  tot  habet  tua  Roma  cinaedos,^ 
pointing  to  a  company  of  young  men  who  were  coming  from  the 
other  direction. 

"In  like  fashion  messer  Marcantonio  della  Torre*^  addressed 
the  Bishop  of  Padua.  There  being  a  nunnery  at  Padua  in 
charge  of  a  friar  reputed  to  be  of  very  pure  life  and  learned 
as  well,  it  came  to  pass  that,  as  the  friar  frequented  the  convent 
familiarly  and  often  confessed  the  nuns,  five  of  them  (more  than 



half  of  all  there  were)  became  pregnant;  and  the  affair  being 
discovered,  the  friar  wished  to  flee  but  knew  not  how.  The 
bishop  had  him  taken  into  custody,  and  he  soon  confessed  that 
he  had  brought  the  five  nuns  to  this  pass,  being  tempted  of  the 
devil;  wherefore  the  bishop  was  firmly  resolved  to  punish  him 
roundly.  But  as  the  man  was  learned,  he  had  many  friends  who 
all  tried  to  help  him,  and  along  with  the  rest  messer  Marcantonio 
went  to  the  bishop  to  implore  some  measure  of  pardon  for  him. 
The  bishop  would  in  no  wise  listen  to  them;  and  after  they  had 
pleaded  hard,  and  recommended  the  culprit,  and  urged  in  ex- 
cuse the  opportunities  of  his  position,  the  frailty  of  human  na- 
ture, and  many  other  things, — at  last  the  bishop  said:  'I  will 
do  nothing  for  him,  because  I  shall  have  to  render  God  an 
account  of  the  matter.'  And  when  they  repeated  their  argu- 
ments, the  bishop  said:  'What  answer  shall  I  make  to  God  on 
the  Day  of  Judgment,  when  he  says  to  me.  Give  an  account  of 
thy  stewardship?'' ^'^  Then  messer  Marcantonio  at  once  said: 
'  My  Lord,  say  that  which  the  Evangelist  says :  Lord,  thoti 
deliveredst  unto  me  five  talents:  behold  I  have  gained  besides  them 
five  talents  more.'^'^  W^hereupon  the  bishop  could  not  keep 
from  laughing,  and  greatly  softened  his  anger  and  the  punish- 
ment intended  for  the  offender. 

62.—"  It  is  also  amusing  to  interpret  names,  and  to  pretend 
some  reason  why  the  man  who  is  spoken  of  bears  such  a  name, 
or  why  something  is  done.  As  a  few  days  ago,  when  Proto  da 
Lucca"**  (who  is  very  amusing,  as  you  know)  asked  for  the 
bishopric  of  Caglio, the  Pope  replied:  *  Knowest  thou  not  that  in 
the  Spanish  tongue  caglio  means  I  keep  silence?  And  thou  art  a 
babbler;  wherefore  it  would  be  unseemly  for  a  bishop  never  to 
be  able  to  repeat  his  title  without  telling  an  untruth.  So  be 
thou  silent  (caglia)  now.'  Here  Proto  made  a  reply,  which, 
although  it  was  not  of  this  sort,  yet  was  not  less  to  the  point;  for 
having  several  times  repeated  his  request,  and  seeing  that  it  was 
of  no  avail,  at  last  he  said:  '  Holy  Father,  if  your  Holiness  grant 
me  this  bishopric,  it  will  not  be  without  advantage,  for  I  shall 
leave  your  Holiness  two  offices  (ufficii).'  '  And  what  offices 
have  you  to  leave?'  said  the  Pope.  Proto  replied:  'The  full 
office  {ufficio  grande),  and   the  Madonna's   office   {nfficio  della 



Madonna):'"    Then  the   Pope   could  not  keep   from  laughing, 
although  he  was  a  very  grave  man. 

«'  Still  another  man  at  Padua  said  that  Calfurnio'*'  was  so 
named  because  he  was  accustomed  to  heat  {scaXdarc)  ovens 
{forni).  And  when  I  one  day  asked  Fedra'"  why  it  was  that  on 
Good  Friday,  while  the  Church  oflfered  prayer  not  only  for 
Christians  but  even  for  pagans  and  Jews,  no  mention  is  made  of 
cardinals  along  with  bishops  and  other  prelates, — he  answered 
me  that  cardinals  were  included  in  that  prayer  which  says:  '  Let 
us  pray  for  heretics  and  schismatics.' 

"  And  our  friend  Count  Ludovico  said  that  the  reason  why  I 
censured  a  lady  for  using  a  certain  cosmetic  that  gave  a  high 
polish,  was  because  I  saw  myself  in  her  face,  when  it  was 
painted,  as  in  a  mirrour;  and  being  ill  favoured  I  could  have  no 
wish  to  see  myself. 

"  Of  this  kind  was  that  retort  of  messer  Camillo  Paleotto"'  to 
messer  Antonio  Porcaro,"*"  who,  in  speaking  of  a  companion 
who  told  the  priest  at  confession  that  he  fasted  zealously,  at- 
tended mass  and  the  sacred  offices,  and  did  all  the  good  in  the 
world,  said:  'The  man  praises  himself  instead  of  owning  his 
sins;'  to  which  messer  Camillo  replied:  'Nay,  he  confesses 
these  things  because  he  thinks  it  a  great  sin  to  do  them.' 

"Do  you  not  remember  what  a  good  thing  my  lord  Prefect 
said  the  other  day?  "When  Giantommaso  Galeotto'"  was  sur- 
prised at  a  man's  asking  two  hundred  ducats  for  a  horse,  be- 
cause, as  Giantommaso  said,  it  was  not  worth  a  farthing  and 
among  other  defects  was  so  afraid  of  weapons  that  no  one  could 
make  it  come  near  them, — my  lord  Prefect  (wishing  to  twit  the 
man  with  cowardice)  said:  '  If  the  horse  has  this  trick  of  run- 
ning away  from  weapons,  I  wonder  that  he  does  not  ask  a  thou- 
sand ducats  for  it.' 

63-—"  Moreover  the  very  same  word  is  sometimes  employed, 
but  in  a  sense  different  from  the  usual  one.  As  when  my  lord 
Duke,'  being  about  to  cross  a  very  rapid  river,  said  to  a  trum- 
peter: 'Cross  over'  (passa);  and  the  trumpeter  turned  cap  in 
hand,  and  said  respectfully:  'After  your  Lordship'  {passi  la  Si- 
gnoria  Vostrd). 

"Another  amusing  kind  of  banter  is  where  a  man  takes  the 



speaker's  words  but  not  his  sense.  As  was  the  case  this  year 
when  a  German  at  Rome,  meeting  one  evening  with  our  friend 
messer  Filippo  Beroaldo,'""  whose  pupil  he  was,  said:  Domine 
inagister,  Deus  det  vobis  honum  sero;'^'  and  Beroaldo  at  once 
replied:  Tibt  malum  cito™ 

"  Again,  Diego  de  Chignones"^  being  at  the  Great  Captain's"* 
table,  another  Spaniard,  who  was  eating  with  them,  said:  *  Vino,' 
meaning  to  ask  for  drink;  Diego  replied:  '  Y  no  lo  conocistes,"*' 
meaning  to  taunt  the  man  with  being  a  heretic/" 

"Another  time  messer  Giacomo  Sadoleto"'  asked  Beroaldo,** 
who  was  saying  how  much  he  wished  to  go  to  Bologna:  '  What 
is  it  that  so  presses  you  at  this  time  to  leave  Rome,  where  there 
are  so  many  pleasures,  to  go  to  Bologna,  which  is  full  of  tur- 
moil?' Beroaldo  replied  :  '  On  three  counts  I  am  forced  to  go  to 
Bologna,'  and  lifted  three  fingers  of  his  left  hand  to  enumerate 
three  reasons  for  his  going;  when  messer  Giacomo  quickly  in- 
terrupted him  and  said:  'These  three  Counts  that  make  you  go 
to  Bologna  are:  first.  Count  Ludovico  da  San  Bonifacio;  sec- 
ond. Count  Ercole  Rangone ;  third,  the  Count  of  Pepoli.'  Where- 
upon everyone  laughed,  because  these  three  Counts  had  been 
pupils  of  Beroaldo,  and  were  fine  youths  studying  at  Bologna.'" 

"  Now  we  laugh  heartily  at  this  kind  of  witticism,  because  it 
carries  with  it  a  response  different  from  the  one  we  are  expect- 
ing to  hear,  and  in  such  matters  we  are  naturally  amused  by  our 
very  mistake  and  laugh  to  find  ourselves  cheated  of  what  we 

64.—"  But  the  modes  of  speech  and  the  figures  that  are  grace- 
ful in  grave  and  serious  talk,  are  nearly  always  becoming  in 
pleasantries  and  games  as  well.  You  see  that  words  set  in  op- 
position produce  much  grace,  when  one  contrasting  clause  is 
balanced  by  another.  The  same  method  is  often  very  witty. 
Thus  a  Genoese,  who  was  very  prodigal  in  spending,  was  re- 
proached by  a  very  miserly  usurer,  who  said  to  him:  '  W^hen 
will  you  ever  cease  throwing  away  your  riches?'  And  he  re- 
plied: '  When  you  cease  stealing  other  men's.' 

"  And  since,  as  we  have  said,  the  same  situations  that  give  op- 
portunity for  biting  pleasantries  may  also  give  opportunity  for 
serious  words  of  praise, — it  is  a  very  graceful  and  becoming 



method  in  either  case  for  a  man  to  admit  or  confirm  what  an- 
other speaker  says,  but  to  interpret  it  in  a  manner  different  from 
what  was  intended.  Thus  a  village  priest  was  saying  mass  to 
his  flock  not  long  since,  and  after  he  had  announced  the  festivals 
of  the  week,  he  began  the  general  confession  in  the  people's 
name,  saying:  'I  have  sinned  by  doing  evil,  by  saying  evil,  by 
thinking  evil,'  and  so  forth,  making  mention  of  all  the  deadly 
sins.  "Whereupon  a  friend  and  close  familiar  of  the  priest,  in 
order  to  make  sport  of  him,  said  to  the  bystanders:  'Bear  wit- 
ness all  of  you  to  what  by  his  own  mouth  he  confesses  he  has 
done,  for  I  mean  to  report  him  to  the  bishop.' 

"  This  same  method  was  used  by  Sallaza  dalla  Pedrada*"  in 
complimenting  a  lady  with  whom  he  was  speaking.  First  he 
praised  her  for  her  virtuous  qualities  and  then  for  still  being 
beautiful;  and  she  replying  that  she  did  not  deserve  such  praise 
because  she  was  already  old,  he  said  to  her:  'My  Lady,  your 
only  sign  of  age  is  your  resemblance  to  the  angels,  who  were  the 
first  and  oldest  creatures  that  God  ever  made.' 

65.— "Just  as  serious  sayings  are  useful  for  praising,  in  like 
fashion  we  find  great  utility  also  in  jocose  sayings  for  taunting, 
and  in  well  arranged  metaphors,  especially  if  they  take  the  form 
of  repartee,  and  if  he  who  replies  preserves  the  same  metaphor 
used  by  his  interlocutor.  And  of  this  kind  was  the  answer  made 
to  messer  Palla  degli  Strozzi,*"*  who  being  exiled  from  Florence, 
sent  back  a  servant  on  a  certain  matter  of  business  and  said  to 
him  rather  threateningly:  'Thou  wilt  tell  Cosimo  de'  Medici 
from  me  that  the  hen  is  hatching.'***  The  messenger  did  the 
errand  commanded  him,  and  Cosimo  at  once  replied  without 
hesitation:  'And  thou  wilt  tell  messer  Palla  from  me  that  hens 
cannot  hatch  well  away  from  their  nests.' 

"  Again,  with  a  metaphor  messer  Camillo  Porcaro"'  gracefully 
praised  my  lord  Marcantonio  Colonna;""  who,  having  heard  that 
messer  Camillo  had  been  extolling  in  an  oration  certain  Italian 
gentlemen  famous  as  warriors,  and  had  spoken  very  highly  of 
him  among  the  rest,  he  expressed  his  thanks  and  said:  'Messer 
Camillo,  you  have  treated  your  friends  as  some  merchants  treat 
their  money  when  it  is  found  to  contain  a  false  ducat;  for  in 
order  to  be  rid  of  it,  they  put  the  piece  among  many  good  ones, 



and  in  this  way  pass  it  on.  So  you,  to  do  me  honour  (although  I 
am  of  little  worth),  have  put  me  in  company  with  such  worthy 
and  excellent  cavaliers,  that  by  virtue  of  their  merit  I  shall  per- 
haps pass  as  good.'  Then  messer  Camillo  replied:  'Those  who 
forge  ducats  are  wont  to  gild  them  so  well  that  they  seem  to  the 
eye  much  finer  than  the  good  ones;  so,  if  there  were  forgers  of 
men  as  there  are  of  ducats,  we  should  have  reason  to  suspect 
that  you  were  false,  being  as  you  are  of  far  finer  and  brighter 
metal  than  any  of  the  rest.' 

"  You  see  that  this  situation  gave  opportunity  for  both  kinds 
of  witticism;  and  so  do  many  others,  of  which  countless  in- 
stances could  be  given  and  especially  in  serious  sayings.  Like 
the  one  uttered  by  the  Great  Captain,  who,  being  seated  at 
table  and  all  the  places  being  already  taken,  saw  that  there 
remained  standing  two  Italian  cavaliers  who  had  served  very 
gallantly  in  the  war;  and  he  at  once  rose  himself  and  caused  all 
the  others  to  rise  and  make  room  for  these  two,  saying:  'Allow 
these  cavaliers  to  sit  at  their  meat,  for  had  it  not  been  for  them, 
the  rest  of  us  should  now  have  no  meat  to  eat.'  Another  time  he 
said  to  Diego  Garzia,'"'  who  was  urging  him  to  retire  from  a 
dangerous  position  where  the  cannon  shot  were  falling:  'Since 
God  hath  put  no  fear  in  your  heart,  do  not  try  to  put  any  in 

"And  King  Louis,*"  who  is  to-day  king  of  France,  being  told 
soon  after  his  accession  that  then  was  the  time  to  punish  his 
enemies  who  had  so  grievously  wronged  him  while  he  was  Duke 
of  Orleans,  replied  that  it  was  not  seemly  for  the  King  of  France 
to  avenge  the  wrongs  of  the  Duke  of  Orleans. 

66.— "Taunts  are  also  often  humourously  uttered  with  a  grave 
air  and  without  exciting  laughter.  As  when  Djem  Othman,*" 
brother  to  the  Grand  Turk,""'  being  a  captive  at  Rome,  said  that 
jousting  as  we  practise  it  in  Italy  seemed  to  him  too  great  a 
matter  for  play  and  too  paltry  for  earnest.  And  on  being  told 
how  agile  and  active  King  Ferdinand  the  Younger  was  in  run- 
ning, leaping,  vaulting,  and  the  like, — he  said  that  in  his  coun- 
try slaves  practised  these  exercises,  while  gentlemen  studied  the 
liberal  arts  from  boyhood,  and  prided  themselves  thereon. 

"Almost  of  the  same  kind,  too,  but  somewhat  more  laugh- 


able,  was  what  the  Archbishop  of  Florence  said  to  the  Alexan- 
drian cardinal:*"  that  men  have  only  their  goods,  their  body,  and 
their  soul;  their  goods  are  put  in  peril  by  the  lawyers,  their 
body  by  the  physicians,  and  their  soul  by  the  theologians." 

Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"To  this  you  might  add  what  Nicoletto""*  said:  that  we  seldom 
find  a  lawyer  who  goes  to  law,  a  physician  who  takes  physic,  or 
a  theologian  who  is  a  good  Christian." 

67.— Messer  Bernardo  laughed,  then  went  on: 

"Of  these  there  are  countless  instances,  uttered  by  great  lords 
and  very  weighty  men.  But  we  often  laugh  at  similes  also,  such 
as  the  one  that  our  friend  Pistoia"^  wrote  to  Serafino:  'Send 
back  the  wallet  that  looks  like  you;'  because,  if  you  remember 
rightly,  Serafino  looked  very  like  a  wallet. 

"Moreover  there  are  some  who  delight  to  liken  men  and  women 
to  horses,  dogs,  birds,  and  often  to  chests,  stools,  carts,  candle- 
sticks; which  is  sometimes  good  and  sometimes  very  flat. 
Therefore  in  this  it  is  needful  to  consider  time,  place,  persons, 
and  the  other  things  that  we  have  mentioned  so  many  times." 

Then  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino  said: 

"  An  amusing  comparison  was  the  one  that  our  friend  my  lord 
Giovanni  Gonzaga**  made  between  Alexander  the  Great  and 
his  own  son  Alessandro."'" 

"  I  do  not  know  it,"  replied  messer  Bernardo. 

My  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  My  lord  Giovanni  was  playing  with  three  dice,  and  as  was 
his  wont  had  lost  many  ducats  and  was  still  losing;  and  his  son 
my  lord  Alessandro  (who,  although  only  a  lad,  is  as  fond  of  play 
as  the  father  is)  stood  looking  at  him  with  great  attention  and 
seemed  very  sad.  Count  Pianella,'"  who  was  present  with  many 
other  gentlemen,  said:  'You  see,  my  Lord,  that  my  lord  Alessan- 
dro is  little  pleased  at  your  losing,  and  is  waiting  anxiously  for 
you  to  win  so  that  he  may  have  some  of  your  winnings.  There- 
fore put  him  out  of  his  misery,  and  before  you  lose  everything 
give  him  at  least  a  ducat,  in  order  that  he  too  may  go  and  play 
with  his  fellows.'  Then  my  lord  Giovanni  said:  'You  are 
wrong,  for  Alessandro  is  not  thinking  of  any  such  trifle.  But  as 
it  is  written  that  when  he  was  a  boy,  Alexander  the  Great  began 



to  weep  on  hearing  that  his  father  Philip"^  had  won  a  great  battle 
and  subdued  some  kingdom,  and  when  he  was  asked  why  he 
wept,  he  replied  that  it  was  because  he  feared  his  father  would 
subdue  so  many  lands  as  to  leave  nothing  for  him  to  subdue;  in 
the  same  way  my  son  Alessandro  is  now  grieving  and  about  to 
weep,  seeing  that  I  his  father  am  losing,  because  he  fears  I  am 
losing  so  much  that  I  shall  leave  nothing  for  him  to  lose.'" 

68.— After  some  laughter  at  this,  messer  Bernardo  continued : 

"Moreover  we  must  avoid  impiety  in  our  witticism,  (because 
from  this  it  is  only  a  step  to  try  to  be  jocular  by  blaspheming 
and  to  invent  new  forms  of  blasphemy);  otherwise  we  seem  to 
seek  applause  by  that  for  which  we  deserve  not  only  blame  but 
heavy  punishment,  which  is  an  abominable  thing.  And  there- 
fore those  of  us  who  like  to  show  their  pleasantry  by  little  rever- 
ence to  God,  deserve  to  be  chased  from  the  society  of  every 

"  And  they,  no  less,  who  are  indecent  and  foul  of  speech,  and 
show  no  respect  for  ladies'  presence  and  seem  to  have  no  other 
pleasure  than  to  make  them  blush  with  shame,  and  who  to  that 
end  are  continually  seeking  witticisms  and  argusie.  As  in  Fer- 
rara  this  year  at  a  banquet  attended  by  many  ladies,  there  were 
a  Florentine  and  a  Sienese,  who  are  usually  hostile,  as  you 
know.  To  taunt  the  Florentine,  the  Sienese  said:  *  We  have 
married  Siena  to  the  Emperor  and  have  given  him  Florence 
for  dowry.'  He  said  this  because  it  was  reported  at  the  time 
that  the  Sienese  had  given  the  Emperor  a  certain  sum  of 
money  and  that  he  had  taken  their  city  under  his  protection. 
The  Florentine  quickly  retorted:  '  Siena  will  first  be  possessed' 
(he  used  the  Italian  word,  but  with  the  French  meaning);  'then 
the  dowry  will  be  disputed  at  leisure."*"  You  see  that  the  retort 
was  clever,  but,  being  made  in  the  presence  of  ladies,  it  became 
indecent  and  unseemly." 

69.— Then  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino  said: 

"  Women  delight  to  hear  nothing  else;  and  you  would  deprive 
them  of  it.  Moreover  for  my  part  I  have  found  myself  blushing 
with  shame  at  words  uttered  by  women  far  oftener  than  by 

"  Of  such  women  I  was  not  speaking,"  said  messer  Bernardo; 



"  but  of  virtuous  ladies,  who  deserve  reverence  and  honour  from 
every  gentleman." 

My  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  We  should  have  to  invent  a  subtle  rule  by  which  to  distin- 
guish them,  for  most  often  those  who  are  seemingly  the  best,  in 
fact  are  quite  the  contrary." 

Then  messer  Bernardo  said,  laughing: 

"  If  we  had  not  present  here  my  lord  Magnifico,  who  is  every- 
where accounted  the  champion  of  women,  I  should  undertake  to 
answer  you;  but  I  am  unwilling  to  do  him  wrong." 

Here  my  lady  Emilia  said,  also  laughing: 

"  Women  have  need  of  no  champion  against  an  accuser  of 
so  little  weight.  So  leave  my  lord  Gaspar  in  his  perverse  opin- 
ion,— which  arises  from  his  never  having  found  a  lady  to  look  at 
him,  rather  than  from  any  fault  on  their  part, — and  go  on  with 
your  talk  about  pleasantries." 

70.— Then  messer  Bernardo  said: 

"  In  truth,  my  Lady,  methinks  I  have  told  of  many  situations 
from  which  we  can  derive  sharp  witticisms,  which  then  have  the 
more  grace  the  more  they  are  accompanied  by  fine  narrative. 
Still  many  others  might  be  mentioned.  As  when,  by  overstate- 
ment or  understatement,  we  say  things  that  outrageously  exceed 
the  probable;  and  of  this  sort  was  what  Mario  da  Volterra*' 
said  of  a  prelate,  that  he  held  himself  so  great  a  man  that  when 
he  entered  St.  Peter's,  he  stooped  in  order  not  to  strike  his  head 
against  the  architrave  of  the  portal.  Again,  our  friend  here  the 
Magnifico  said  that  his  servant  Galpino  was  so  lean  and  light 
that  in  blowing  the  fire  to  kindle  it  one  morning,  the  fellow  had 
been  carried  by  the  smoke  all  the  way  up  the  chimney  to  the 
very  top;  but  happening  to  be  brought  crosswise  against  one  of 
the  openings,  he  had  the  good  luck  not  to  be  blown  away  with 
the  smoke. 

"  Another  time  messer  Agostino  Bevazzano""  said  that  a  miser, 
who  had  been  unwilling  to  sell  his  grain  while  it  was  dear,  after- 
wards hanged  himself  in  despair  from  a  rafter  of  his  bedroom 
when  he  found  that  the  price  had  greatly  fallen;  and  one  of  his 
servants  ran  in  on  hearing  the  noise,  saw  the  miser  hanging,  and 
quickly  cut  the  rope  and  thus  rescued  him  from  death.     Then, 



having  come  to  himself,  the  miser  insisted  that  his  servant  should 
pay  him  for  the  rope  that  had  been  cut. 

"  Of  the  same  sort  also  seems  to  be  what  Lorenzo  de'  Medici 
said  to  a  dull  buffoon:  'You  would  not  make  me  laugh  if  you 
tickled  me.'  And  in  like  fashion  he  answered  another  simpleton 
who  had  found  him  abed  very  late  one  morning,  and  who  had 
reproved  him  for  sleeping  so  late,  saying:  *I  have  already  been 
at  the  New  Market  and  the  Old,  then  outside  the  San  Gallo  gate 
and  around  the  walls  for  exercise,  and  have  done  a  thousand 
things  besides;  and  you  are  still  asleep?'  Then  Lorenzo  said: 
'  W^hat  I  dreamed  in  one  hour  is  worth  more  than  what  you 
accomplished  in  four.' 

71.—"  It  is  also  fine  when  in  a  retort  we  censure  something 
without  apparently  meaning  to  censure  it.  For  instance,  the 
Marquess  Federico  of  Mantua,"^  father  to  our  lady  Duchess, 
being  at  table  with  many  gentlemen,  one  of  them  said  after  eat- 
ing an  entire  bowl  of  stew:  '  Pardon  me,  my  lord  Marquess;'  and 
so  saying  he  began  to  gulp  down  the  broth  that  remained.  Then 
the  Marquess  said  quickly:  'Ask  pardon  rather  of  the  swine, 
for  you  do  me  no  wrong  at  all.' 

"  Again,  to  censure  a  tyrant  who  was  falsely  reputed  to  be  gen- 
erous, messer  Niccolo  Leonico'"  said:  'Think  what  generosity 
rules  him,  for  he  gives  away  not  his  own  things  only,  but  other 
men's  as  well! ' 

72.—"  Another  very  pretty  form  of  pleasantry  is  that  which 
consists  in  a  kind  of  innuendo,  w^hen  we  say  one  thing  and 
tacitly  imply  another.  Of  course  I  do  not  mean  another  thing 
of  a  completely  different  kind,  like  calling  a  dwarf  gigantic  and 
a  negro  white  or  a  very  ugly  man  handsome,  for  the  difference 
is  too  obvious, —  although  even  these  sometimes  cause  laughter; 
but  I  mean  when  with  stern  and  serious  air  we  humourously  say 
something  in  jest  which  is  not  our  real  thought.  For  instance, 
when  a  gentleman  told  a  palpable  lie  to  messer  Agostino  Fogli- 
etta"""  and  affirmed  it  stoutly  on  seeing  that  he  had  much  difficulty 
in  believing  it,  messer  Agostino  said  at  last:  '  Fair  sir,  if  I  may 
ever  hope  to  receive  kindness  from  you,  do  me  the  favour  to  be 
content  even  if  I  do  not  believe  anything  you  say.'  But  as  the 
other  repeated,  and  under  oath,  that  it  was  the  truth,  he  finally 



said:  *  Since  you  will  have  it  so,  I  will  believe  it  for  your  sake, 
for  indeed  I  would  do  even  a  greater  thing  than  this  for  you.' 

"Don  Giovanni  di  Cardona*"  said  something  nearly  of  this  sort 
about  a  man  who  wished  to  leave  Rome:  'To  my  thinking  the 
fellow  is  ill  advised,  for  he  is  so  great  a  rascal  that  by  staying  on 
at  Rome  he  might  in  time  become  a  cardinal.'  Of  this  sort  also 
is  what  was  said  by  Alfonso  Santacroce,*"'  who  had  shortly  be- 
fore suffered  some  outrage  from  the  Cardinal  of  Pavia.*"  "While 
strolling  with  several  gentlemen  near  the  place  of  public  execu- 
tion outside  Bologna,  he  saw  a  man  who  had  recently  been 
hanged,  and  turning  towards  the  body  with  a  thoughtful  air,  he 
said  loud  enough  for  everyone  to  hear  him:  'Happy  thou,  who 
hast  naught  to  do  with  the  Cardinal  of  Pavia.' 

73 — "  And  this  sort  of  pleasantry  which  is  tinged  with  irony 
seems  very  becoming  to  great  men,  because  it  is  dignified  and 
sharp,  and  can  be  used  in  jocose  as  well  as  in  serious  matters. 
Hence  many  ancients  (and  those  among  the  most  esteemed) 
have  used  it,  like  Cato  and  Scipio  Africanus  the  Younger;  but 
above  all  men,  the  philosopher  Socrates  is  said  to  have  excelled 
in  it.  And  in  our  own  times  King  Alfonso  I  of  Aragon,""'  who, 
being  about  to  eat  one  morning,  took  off  the  many  precious 
rings  that  he  had  on  his  fingers,  in  order  not  to  wet  them  in 
washing  his  hands,  and  so  gave  them  to  the  first  person  he 
happened  on,  almost  without  looking  to  see  who  it  was.  This 
servant  supposed  that  the  king  had  taken  no  notice  who  received 
them,  and  by  reason  of  weightier  cares  would  easily  forget  them 
altogether;  and  in  this  he  was  the  more  confirmed,  seeing  that 
the  king  did  not  ask  for  them  again;  and  as  he  saw  days,  weeks 
and  months  pass  without  hearing  a  word  about  them,  he  thought 
he  was  surely  safe.  Accordingly,  nearly  a  year  after  this  had 
happened,  he  presented  himself  again  one  morning  as  the  king 
was  about  to  eiat,  and  held  out  his  hand  to  receive  the  rings; 
whereupon  the  king  bent  close  to  his  ear  and  said  to  him:  'Let 
the  first  ones  suffice  thee,  because  these  will  do  for  someone 
else.'  You  see  how  biting,  clever  and  dignified  the  sally  was, 
and  how  truly  worthy  the  exalted  spirit  of  an  Alexander. 

74-—"  Similar  to  this  manner  (which  savours  of  the  ironical)  is 
another  method,  that  of  describing  an  evil  thing  in  polite  terms. 



As  the  Great  Captain  said  to  one  of  his  cavaliers,  who,  after  the 
battle  of  Cerignola,"™  when  the  danger  was  over,  came  forward 
in  the  richest  armour  possible  to  describe,  accoutered  as  if  for 
battle.  And  then  the  Great  Captain  turned  to  Don  Ugo  di  Car- 
dona"'  and  said:  'Have  no  more  fear  of  storm,  for  Saint  Elmo 
has  appeared;'  and  with  this  polite  speech  he  stung  the  man 
to  the  quick,  because  you  know  that  Saint  Elmo*"  always  appears 
to  mariners  after  the  tempest  and  gives  token  of  fair  weather; 
and  thus  the  Great  Captain  meant  that  this  cavalier's  appear- 
ance was  a  token  that  the  danger  was  quite  passed. 

"Another  time  my  lord  Ottaviano  Ubaldini,"'  being  at  Flor- 
ence in  the  company  of  some  citizens  of  great  influence,  and  the 
talk  being  about  soldiers,  one  of  them  asked  him  if  he  knew^ 
Antonello  da  Forli,"*  who  had  at  that  time  fled  from  Florentine 
territory.  My  lord  Ottaviano  replied:  *I  do  not  know  him,  but 
have  always  heard  him  spoken  of  as  a  prompt  soldier.'  Where- 
upon another  Florentine  said:  'You  see  how  prompt  he  is,  when 
he  takes  his  departure  without  asking  leave.' 

75-— "Those  witticisms  also  are  very  clever  in  which  we  take 
from  our  interlocutor's  lips  something  that  he  does  not  mean. 
And  of  this  kind,  methinks,  was  my  lord  Duke's  reply  to  the 
castellan  who  lost  San  Leo''"  when  this  duchy  was  taken  by 
Pope  Alexander  and  given  to  Duke  Valentino;""  and  it  was 
this:  my  lord  Duke  being  in  Venice  at  the  time  I  have  men- 
tioned, many  of  his  subjects  came  continually  to  give  him  secret 
news  how  things  were  faring  in  his  state;  and  among  the  rest 
came  this  castellan,  who,  after  having  excused  himself  as  best  he 
could,  ascribing  the  blame  to  mischance,  said:  'Have  no  anxiety, 
my  Lord,  because  I  still  have  heart  to  take  measures  for  the  re- 
covery of  San  Leo.'  Then  my  lord  Duke  replied:  'Trouble 
yourself  no  more  about  the  matter,  for  the  mere  loss  of  it  was  a 
measure  that  rendered  its  recovery  possible.' 

"  There  are  certain  other  sayings  when  a  man  known  to  be 
clever  says  something  that  seems  to  proceed  from  foolishness. 
For  instance,  messer  Camillo  Paleotto"''  said  of  someone  the 
other  day:  '  He  was  such  a  fool  that  he  died  as  soon  as  he  began 
to  grow  rich.' 

"  Of  like  kind  with  this   is   a  spicy  and   keen   dissimulation, 



where  a  man  (discreet,  as  I  have  said)  pretends  not  to  under- 
stand something  that  he  does  understand.  Like  what  was  said 
by  the  Marquess  Federico  of  Mantua,  who, — being  pestered  by  a 
tiresome  fellow  who  complained  that  some  of  his  neighbours 
were  snaring  doves  out  of  his  dovecote,  and  all  the  while  held 
one  of  them  in  his  hand,  hanging  dead  just  as  he  had  found  it 
with  its  foot  caught  in  the  snare, — replied  that  the  matter  should 
be  looked  to.  The  fellow  repeated  the  story  of  his  loss  not 
once  only  but  many  times,  always  displaying  the  dove  that  had 
been  hanged,  and  saying:  'And  what,  my  Lord,  do  you  think 
ought  to  be  done  in  this  case?'  At  last  the  Marquess  said:  'I  think 
the  dove  ought  on  no  account  to  be  buried  in  church,  for  having 
hanged  itself,  it  must  be  believed  to  have  committed  suicide.'"' 

"  Somewhat  of  the  same  fashion  was  the  retort  made  by  Scipio 
Nasica'^"  to  Ennius,  Once  when  Scipio  went  to  Ennius's  house 
to  speak  with  him  and  called  him  down  from  the  street,  one  of 
his  maids  replied  that  he  was  not  at  home;  and  Scipio  distinctly 
heard  Ennius  himself  tell  the  maid  to  say  he  was  not  at  home, 
and  so  went  away.  Not  long  afterwards  Ennius  came  to 
Scipio's  house  and  likewise  called  to  him  from  below;  where- 
upon Scipio  himself  replied  in  a  loud  voice  that  he  was  not 
at  home.  Then  Ennius  replied:  'How?  Do  I  not  know  thy 
voice?'  Scipio  said:  'Thou  art  too  rude.  The  other  day  I 
believed  thy  maid  when  she  said  thou  wert  not  at  home,  and 
'*tiow  thou  wilt  not  believe  the  like  from  me  in  person.' 

70 — "  It  is  also  a  fine  thing  when  a  man  is  struck  in  the  very 
same  place  where  he  first  struck  his  fellow.  As  in  the  case  of 
messer  Alonso  Carillo,'''  who,  being  at  the  Spanish  court  and 
having  committed  some  youthful  peccadilloes  of  no  great  impor- 
tance, was  put  in  prison  by  the  king's  order  and  left  there  over- 
night. The  next  day  he  was  taken  out,  and  so  going  to  the 
palace  in  the  morning,  he  reached  the  hall  where  there  were 
many  cavaliers  and  ladies.  And  as  they  were  laughing  at  his 
imprisonment,  my  lady  Boadilla'"said:  '  Signor  Alonso,  your  mis- 
hap weighed  on  me  heavily,  for  all  your  acquaintance  thought 
the  king  would  have  you  hanged.'  Then  Alonso  said  quickly: 
'  My  Lady,  I  was  much  afraid  of  it  myself;  but  then  I  had  hope 
that  you  would   ask  me  to  be  your  husband.'    You  see  how 



sharp  and  clever  this  was,  because  in  Spain  (as  in  many  other 
countries  too)  the  custom  is  that  when  a  man  is  led  to  the  gal- 
lows, his  life  is  given  him  if  a  public  courtesan  begs  him  for  her 

♦'  In  this  manner  also  the  painter  Raphael  replied  to  two  car- 
dinals with  whom  he  was  on  familiar  terms,  and  who  (to  make 
him  talk)  were  finding  fault  in  his  presence  with  a  picture  that 
he  had  painted, — in  which  St.  Peter  and  St.  Paul  were  repre- 
sented,— saying  that  these  two  figures  were  too  red  in  the  face. 
Then  Raphael  at  once  said:  'My  Lords,  be  not  concerned; 
because  I  painted  them  so  with  full  intention,  since  we  have 
reason  to  believe  that  St.  Peter  and  St.  Paul  are  as  red  in 
Heaven  as  you  see  them  here,  for  shame  that  their  Church 
should  be  governed  by  such  men  as  you."*" 

77.—"  Very  keen  also  are  those  witticisms  that  have  a  certain 
latent  spice  of  fun  in  them.  As  where  a  husband  was  making 
great  lament  and  weeping  for  his  wife,  who  had  hanged  herself 
on  a  fig-tree,  another  man  approached  him  and  plucking  him  by 
the  robe,  said:  *  Brother,  might  I  as  a  great  favour  have  a  small 
branch  of  that  fig-tree  to  graft  upon  some  tree  in  my  garden?' 

"  Some  other  witticisms  need  an  air  of  patience  and  are 
slowly  uttered  with  a  certain  gravity.  As  where  a  rustic,  who 
was  carrying  a  box  on  his  shoulders,  jostled  it  against  Cato,  and 
then  said:  'Have  a  care.'  Cato  replied:  'Hast  thou  aught  else 
but  that  chest  upon  thy  shoulders?"*' 

"  Moreover  we  laugh  when  a  man  has  made  a  blunder,  an«r to 
mend  it  says  something  of  set  purpose  that  seems  silly  and  yet 
tends  to  the  object  he  has  in  view,  and  thus  keeps  himself  in 
countenance.  For  instance,  in  the  Florentine  Council  not  long 
ago  there  were  (as  often  happens  in  these  republics)  two  ene- 
mies, and  one  of  them,  who  was  of  the  Altoviti  family,  fell 
asleep.  And  although  his  adversary,  who  was  of  the  Alamanni 
family,  was  not  speaking  and  had  not  spoken,  yet  to  raise  a 
laugh  the  man  who  sat  next  Altoviti  woke  him  with  a  touch  of 
the  elbow,  and  said:  'Do  you  not  hear  what  So  and  So  says? 
Make  answer,  as  the  Signors  are  asking  for  your  opinion,' 
Thereupon  Altoviti  rose  to  his  feet  all  drowsy  as  he  was,  and 
said  without  stopping  to  think:  '  My  Lords,  I  say  just  the  oppo- 


site  of  what  Alamanni  said.'  Alamanni  replied:  '  But  I  said  no- 
thing.' •  Then,'  said  Altoviti  at  once, '  the  opposite  of  whatever 
you  may  say.' 

•'  Of  this  kind  also  was  what  your  Urbino  physician,  master 
Serafino,  said  to  a  rustic,  who  had  received  a  hard  blow  in  the 
eye  so  that  it  was  forced  quite  out,  yet  decided  to  seek  aid  from 
master  Serafino.  On  seeing  him,  although  aware  that  it  was 
impossible  to  cure  him,  still  in  order  to  force  money  from  his 
hands  (just  as  the  blow  had  forced  the  eye  from  his  head),  the 
doctor  readily  promised  to  cure  him,  and  accordingly  demanded 
money  from  him  every  day,  affirming  that  he  would  begin  to 
recover  his  sight  within  five  or  six  days.  The  poor  rustic  gave 
what  little  he  had;  then,  seeing  that  the  affair  was  progressing 
slowly,  he  began  to  complain  of  the  physician,  and  to  say  that 
he  felt  no  benefit  at  all  and  saw  no  more  with  that  eye  than  as 
if  he  had  it  not  in  his  head.  At  last  master  Serafino,  seeing  that 
he  would  be  able  to  extort  little  more  from  the  man,  said: 
*  Brother,  you  must  have  patience.  You  have  lost  your  eye  and 
there  is  no  longer  any  help  for  it;  and  may  God  grant  that  you 
do  not  lose  your  other  eye  as  well.'  On  hearing  this,  the  rustic 
began  to  weep  and  complain  loudly,  and  said:  'Master,  you 
have  ruined  me  and  stolen  my  money.  I  will  complain  to  my 
lord  Duke;'  and  he  made  the  greatest  outcry  in  the  world. 
Then,  to  clear  himself,  master  Serafino  said  angrily:  'Ah, 
wretched  traitor !  So  you  would  have  two  eyes,  as  city-folk  and 
rich  men  have?  To  perdition  with  you!'  and  accompanied 
these  words  with  such  fury  that  the  poor  rustic  was  frightened 
into  silence  and  quietly  went  his  way  in  peace,  believing  himself 
to  be  in  the  wrong. 

78 — "It  is  also  fine  to  explain  or  interpret  a  thing  jocosely.  As 
when  at  the  court  of  Spain  there  appeared  one  morning  in  the 
palace  a  cavalier  who  was  very  ugly,  and  his  wife  who  was  very 
beautiful,  both  dressed  in  white  damask  (damasco), — the  queen'"^ 
said  to  Alonso  Carillo:  'What  think  you  of  these  two,  Alonso?' 
'My  Lady,'  replied  Alonso,  'I  think  she  is  the  dama  (lady),  and 
he  is  the  asco/  which  means  monster. 

"Another  time  Rafaello  de'  Pazzi''*  saw  a  letter  which  the 
Prior  of  Messina***  had  written  to  a  lady  of  his  acquaintance,  the 



superscription  of  which  read,  'This  missive  is  to  be  delivered  to 
the  author  of  my  woes.'  ' Methinks,'  said  Rafaello,  'this  letter 
is  intended  for  Paolo  Tolosa."*  Imagine  how  the  bystanders 
laughed,  when  everyone  knew  that  Paolo  Tolosa  had  lent  the 
Prior  ten  thousand  ducats,  and  that  he,  being  a  great  spend- 
thrift, found  no  means  to  repay  them. 

"  Akin  to  this  is  the  giving  of  friendly  admonition  in  the  form 
of  advice,  yet  covertly.  As  Cosimo  de'  Medici  did  to  one  of  his 
friends,  who  was  very  rich  but  of  moderate  education  and  who 
had  secured  through  Cosimo  a  mission  away  from  Florence. 
When  on  setting  out  the  man  asked  Cosimo  what  course  he 
thought  ought  to  be  taken  in  order  to  do  well  in  the  mission, 
Cosimo  replied:  'Wear  rose-colour,'"'  and  say  little.'  Of  the 
same  kind  was  what  Count  Ludovico  said  to  a  man  who  wished 
to  travel  incognito  through  a  certain  dangerous  place  and  knew 
not  how  to  disguise  himself;  and  being  asked  about  it,  the  count 
replied:  'Dress  like  a  doctor  or  some  other  man  of  sense.' 
Again,  Gianotto  de'  Pazzi"**  said  to  someone  who  wished  to 
make  a  jerkin  of  as  varied  colours  as  he  could  find:  'Imitate 
the  Cardinal  of  Pavia  in  word  and  deed.' 

79 — "We  laugh  also  at  some  things  that  have  no  connection. 
As  when  someone  said  the  other  day  to  messer  Antonio  Rizzo"* 
about  a  certain  man  from  Forli:  'You  may  know  he  is  a  fool, 
for  his  name  is  Bartolommeo.'  And  another:  'You  are  looking 
for  a  Master  Stall,  and  have  no  horses!'  And:  'All  the  fellow 
lacks  is  money  and  brains.* 

"  And  we  laugh  at  certain  other  things  that  seem  to  have  se- 
quence. As  recently,  when  a  friend  of  ours  was  suspected  of 
having  had  the  renunciation ''"'  of  a  benefice  forged,  upon  another 
priest's  falling  sick,  Antonio  Torello""'  said  to  our  friend:  'Why 
do  you  delay  to  send  for  that  notary  of  yours  and  see  about  filch- 
ing this  other  benefice?'  Likewise  at  some  things  that  have  no 
sequence.  As  the  other  day,  when  the  pope  sent  for  messer 
Gianluca  da  Pontremolo  and  messer  Domenico  dalla  Porta 
(who  are  both  hunchbacks  as  you  know),*™  and  made  them 
auditors,  saying  that  he  wished  to  set  the  Wheel  right, — messer 
Latino  Giovenale™  said:  'His  Holiness  is  in  errour  if  he  thinks 
to  make  the  Wheel  right  with  two  wrongs  {due  torti).' 



80.—"  We  often  laugh  also  when  a  man  admits  everything  that 
is  said  to  him  and  more  too,  but  pretends  to  take  it  in  a  different 
sense.  As  when  Captain  Peralta  was  brought  out  to  fight  a  duel 
with  Aldana,  and  Captain  Molarf^  (who  was  Aldana's  second) 
asked  Peralta  on  his  oath  if  he  wore  any  amulets  or  charms  to 
keep  him  from  being  wounded;  Peralta  swore  that  he  wore  no 
amulets  or  charms  or  relics  or  objects  of  devotion  in  which  he 
had  faith.  W^hereupon,  to  taunt  him  with  being  a  heretic,  Mo- 
lart  said:  'Do  not  trouble  yourself  about  it,  for  without  your 
oath  I  believe  you  have  no  faith  in  Christ  himself.'  *** 

"  Moreover  it  is  a  fine  thing  to  use  metaphors  seasonably  in 
such  cases.  As  when  our  friend  master  Marcantonio  said  to  Bot- 
tone  da  Cesena,™  who  was  goading  him  with  words:  '  Bottone, 
Bottone,  you  will  one  day  be  the  button  {bottone),  and  your 
button-hole  will  be  the  halter.'  Another  time,  master  Marcan- 
tonio having  composed  a  very  long  comedy  in  several  acts, 
this  same  Bottone  said  to  master  Marcantonio:  'To  play  your 
comedy,  all  the  timber  there  is  in  Slavonia  will  be  needed  for 
the  setting.'  Master  Marcantonio  replied :  'While  for  the  setting 
of  your  tragedy,  three  sticks  will  be  quite  enough.' ""' 

81.—"  We  often  use  a  word  in  which  there  is  a  hidden  meaning 
remote  from  the  one  we  seem  to  intend.  As  was  done  by  my  lord 
Prefect  here,  on  hearing  mention  of  a  certain  captain  who  in  his 
time  had  for  the  most  part  been  defeated  but  just  then  had 
chanced  to  win.  And  the  speaker  telling  that  when  the  captain 
made  his  entry  into  the  place  in  question,  he  had  on  a  very 
beautiful  crimson  velvet  doublet,  which  he  always  wore  after 
his  victories,  my  lord  Prefect  said:  '  It  must  be  new.' 

"  Nor  is  there  less  laughter  when  we  reply  to  something  that  our 
interlocutor  has  not  said,  or  pretend  to  believe  he  has  done 
something  that  he  has  not  but  ought  to  have  done.  As  when 
Andrea  Coscia,™  having  gone  to  visit  a  gentleman  who  rudely 
kept  his  seat  and  left  his  guest  to  stand,  said:  '  Since  your  Lord- 
ship commands  me,  I  will  sit  down  to  obey  you;'  and  so  sat 

82.—"  We  laugh  also  when  a  man  accuses  himself  of  some 
fault  humourously.  As  when  I  told  my  lord  Duke's  chaplain 
the  other  day  that  my  lord  CardinaP™  had  a  chaplain  who  said 



mass  faster  than  he,  he  answered  me:  'It  is  not  possible;'  and 
coming  close  to  my  ear,  he  said:  'You  must  know,  I  do  not  re- 
cite a  third  of  the  silent  prayers.' 

"Again,  a  priest  at  Milan  having  died,  Biagino  Crivello*" 
begged  his  benefice  of  the  Duke,*"  who  however  was  minded  to 
give  it  to  someone  else.  At  last  Biagino  saw  that  further  argu- 
ment was  of  no  avail,  and  said:  '  What!  After  I  have  had  the 
priest  killed,  why  will  you  not  give  me  his  benefice?* 

"  It  is  often  amusing  also  to  express  desire  for  those  things 
that  cannot  be.  As  the  other  day,  when  one  of  our  friends  saw 
all  these  gentlemen  playing  at  fence  while  he  was  lying  on  his 
bed,  and  said:  '  Ah,  how  glad  I  should  be  if  this  too  were  a  fitting 
exercise  for  a  strong  man  and  a  good  soldier!' 

"  Moreover  it  is  an  amusing  and  spicy  style  of  talk,  and  espe- 
cially for  grave  and  dignified  persons,  to  reply  the  opposite  of 
what  the  person  spoken  to  desires,  but  slowly  and  with  a  little 
air  of  doubtful  and  hesitating  deliberation.  As  was  once  the 
case  with  King  Alfonso  I  of  Aragon,"™  who  gave  a  servant 
weapons,  horses  and  clothes,  because  the  fellow  said  he  had 
the  night  before  dreamed  that  his  Highness  had  given  him  all 
these  things;  and  again  not  long  afterwards  the  same  servant 
said  he  had  that  night  dreamed  that  the  king  gave  him  a  goodly 
sum  of  gold  florins,  whereupon  the  king  replied:  '  Put  no  trust  in 
dreams  henceforth,  because  they  are  not  true.'  Of  like  sort  also 
was  the  pope's  reply  to  the  Bishop  of  Cervia,*"  who  said  to  him 
in  order  to  sound  his  purpose:  'Holy  Father,  it  is  said  all  over 
Rome,  and  the  palace  too,  that  your  Holiness  is  making  me 
governor.'  Then  the  pope  replied:  'Let  them  talk, — they  are 
only  knaves.     Have  no  fear  there  is  any  truth  in  it.' 

83.—"  Perhaps,  my  Lords,  I  might  collect  still  many  other  occa- 
sions that  give  opportunity  for  humourous  sallies:  such  as  things 
said  with  shyness,  with  admiration,  with  threats,  out  of  season, 
with  excessive  anger;  besides  these,  certain  other  conditions 
that  provoke  laughter  when  they  occur :  sometimes  a  kind  of 
wondering  taciturnity,  sometimes  mere  laughter  itself  when 
untimely.  But  methinks  I  have  now  said  enough,  for  I  believe 
that  pleasantry  which  takes  the  form  of  words  does  not  exceed 
the  limits  we  have  discussed. 



"  Then,  as  to  that  which  is  shown  in  action,  although  it  has 
numberless  forms,  it  still  is  comprised  under  a  few  heads.  But  in 
both  kinds  the  main  thing  is  to  cheat  expectation  and  reply 
otherwise  than  the  hearer  looks  for;  and  if  the  pleasantry  is  to 
find  favour,  it  must  needs  be  seasoned  with  deceit  or  dissimula- 
tion or  ridicule  or  censure  or  simile,  or  whatever  other  style  a 
man  chooses  to  employ.  And  while  pleasantries  provoke  laugh- 
ter, yet  with  this  laughter  they  produce  divers  other  effects:  for 
some  contain  a  certain  elegance  and  modest  pleasantness,  others 
a  hidden  or  an  open  sting,  others  have  a  taint  of  grossness, 
others  move  to  laughter  as  soon  as  they  are  heard,  others  the 
more  they  are  thought  of,  others  make  us  blush  as  well  as  laugh, 
others  rouse  a  little  anger.  But  in  all  methods  we  must  consider 
our  hearers'  state  of  mind,  for  to  the  afflicted  jocosity  often 
brings  greater  affliction,  and  there  are  certain  maladies  that  are 
aggravated  the  more  medicine  is  employed. 

"  Hence  if  the  Courtier  pays  heed  to  time,  persons  and  his 
own  rank,  in  his  banter  and  amusing  talk,  and  uses  them  not  too 
often  (for  in  truth  it  begets  tedium  to  be  harping  on  this  all  day, 
in  all  kinds  of  converse,  in  season  and  out),  he  may  be  called  a 
man  of  humour;  taking  care  also  not  to  be  so  sharp  and  biting  as 
to  be  thought  spiteful,  assailing  causelessly  or  with  evident  ran- 
cour: either  those  who  are  too  powerful,  which  is  imprudent;  or 
those  who  are  too  weak,  which  is  cruel;  or  those  who  are  too 
wicked,  which  is  useless;  or  saying  things  to  offend  those  he 
would  not  offend,  which  is  ignorance.  Yet  there  are  some  who 
feel  bound  to  speak  and  assail  recklessly  whenever  they  can,  let 
the  consequence  be  what  it  may.  And  among  these  last,  some 
there  are  who  do  not  scruple  to  tarnish  the  honour  of  a  noble 
lady,  for  the  sake  of  saying  something  humourous;  which  is  a 
very  evil  thing  and  worthy  the  heaviest  punishment,  for  in  this 
regard  ladies  are  to  be  numbered  among  the  weak,  and  so  ought 
not  to  be  assailed,  since  they  have  no  weapons  to  defend  them. 

"  Besides  these  things,  he  who  would  be  agreeable  and  amusing 
must  have  a  certain  natural  aptitude  for  all  kinds  of  fun,  and 
must  adapt  his  behaviour,  gestures  and  face  accordingly;  and 
the  graver  and  more  serious  and  impassive  his  face  is,  the  more 
spicy  and  keen  will  he  make  his  sallies  seem. 



84 "  But  you,  messer  Federico,  who  thought  to  take  your  ease 

under  this  leafless  tree  and  in  my  arid  talk,  I  am  sure  you  have 
repented  of  it  and  think  you  have  found  your  way  to  the  Monte- 
fiore  Inn.**  Therefore  it  will  be  well  for  you,  like  a  practised 
postman,  to  rise  somewhat  earlier  than  usual  and  take  up  your 
journey,  in  order  to  escape  from  a  bad  inn." 

"  Nay,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  I  have  come  to  so  good  an 
inn  that  I  mean  to  tarry  in  it  longer  than  I  first  intended.  So  I 
shall  go  on  taking  my  ease  until  you  have  finished  the  whole  dis- 
course appointed,  of  which  you  have  left  out  one  part  that  you 
mentioned  in  the  beginning — that  is,  practical  jokes;  and  it  is  not 
right  for  you  to  cheat  the  company  of  this.  But  as  you  have 
taught  us  many  fine  things  about  pleasantries,  and  have  made  us 
bold  to  use  them  by  the  example  of  so  many  singular  geniuses, 
great  men,  princes,  kings,  and  popes, — so  too  in  practical  jokes  I 
think  you  will  give  us  such  daring  that  we  shall  venture  to  try 
some  even  upon  you." 

Then  messer  Bernardo  said,  laughing: 

"  You  will  not  be  the  first;  but  perhaps  you  may  not  succeed, 
for  I  have  already  endured  so  many  of  them  that  I  am  on  my  guard 
against  everything,  like  dogs  who  are  afraid  of  cold  water 
after  once  being  scalded  with  hot.  However,  since  you  will 
have  me  speak  of  this  also,  I  think  I  can  despatch  it  in  a  few 

85.—"  It  seems  to  me  that  practical  joking  is  naught  else  but 
friendly  deceit  in  things  that  do  not  offend  or  that  offend  only  a 
little.  And  just  as  in  pleasantry  it  arouses  laughter  to  say  some- 
thing contrary  to  expectation,  so  in  practical  joking  it  arouses 
laughter  to  do  something  contrary  to  expectation.  And  the 
cleverer  and  more  discreet  these  jokes  are,  the  more  they  please 
and  are  applauded;  for  he  often  gives  offence  who  tries  to  play  a 
practical  joke  recklessly,  and  afterwards  quarrels  and  serious 
enmities  arise  in  consequence. 

"  But  the  occasions  that  give  opportunity  for  practical  jokes 
are  nearly  the  same  as  in  the  case  of  pleasantries.  So  not  to  re- 
peat them,  I  will  merely  say  that  practical  jokes  are  of  two 
kinds,  each  of  which  kinds  might  be  further  divided  into  classes. 
One  kind  is  where  anyone  is  cleverly  tricked  in  a  fine  and  amus- 



ing  manner;  the  other  is  where  a  net  is  cast,  as  it  were,  and 
a  little  bait  is  offered,  so  that  the  victim  himself  hastens  to  be 

"  Of  the  first  kind  was  the  joke  that  two  great  ladies,  whom  I 
do  not  wish  to  name,  lately  had  played  upon  them  by  means  of  a 
Spaniard  called  Castillo.""' 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"  And  why  do  you  not  wish  to  name  them?  " 

Messer  Bernardo  replied: 

"  I  would  not  have  them  take  offence." 

My  lady  Duchess  answered,  laughing: 

"  It  is  not  amiss  to  play  jokes  now  and  then  even  upon  great 
lords.  Indeed  I  have  heard  of  many  being  played  upon  Duke 
Federico,  upon  King  Alfonso  of  Aragon,  upon  Queen  Isabella 
of  Spain,  and  upon  many  other  great  princes;  and  they  not 
only  did  not  take  offence,  but  rewarded  the  perpetrators  liber- 

Messer  Bernardo  replied: 

"  Not  even  for  the  hope  of  reward  will  I  name  those  ladies." 

"  As  you  please,"  answered  my  lady  Duchess. 

Then  messer  Bernardo  went  on  to  say: 

"  It  is  not  long  since  there  arrived  at  the  court  (of  I  know 
whom)  a  Bergamasque  rustic  on  business  for  a  courtier  gentle- 
man; and  this  rustic  was  so  well  attired  and  elegantly  ap- 
pointed that,  although  he  had  been  only  used  to  tend  cattle  and 
knew  no  other  trade,  anyone  who  did  not  hear  him  speak 
would  have  taken  him  for  a  gallant  cavalier.  Now,  being  told 
that  a  Spanish  follower  of  Cardinal  Borgia™  had  arrived,  and 
that  he  was  called  Castillo  and  was  exceedingly  clever,  a  mu- 
sician, a  dancer,  a  ballatore,""  and  the  most  accomplished  Cour- 
tier in  all  Spain, — these  two  ladies  were  filled  with  extreme 
desire  to  speak  with  him,  and  straightway  sent  for  him.  And 
after  receiving  him  with  ceremony,  they  made  him  sit  down  and 
began  to  speak  to  him  with  the  greatest  distinction  before  all  the 
company;  and  there  were  few  of  those  present  who  did  not 
know  that  the  fellow  was  a  Bergamasque  cow-herd.  So  when 
these  ladies  were  seen  entertaining  him  with  so  much  respect 
and  honouring  him  so  signally,  the  laughter  was  very  hearty, 



the  more  so  as  the  good  man  spoke  his  native  Bergamasque 
dialect  all  the  while.™*  But  the  gentlemen  who  played  the  trick 
had  told  these  ladies  in  the  beginning  that  he  was  among  other 
things  a  great  joker,  and  spoke  all  languages  admirably  and 
especially  rustic  Lombard.  Thus  they  continually  imagined 
that  he  was  pretending,  and  they  often  turned  to  each  other 
with  an  air  of  surprise,  and  said:  'Listen  to  this  prodigy,  how 
well  he  counterfeits  the  language ! '  In  short,  the  conversation 
lasted  so  long  that  everyone's  sides  ached  from  laughing;  and 
he  himself  could  not  help  giving  so  many  tokens  of  his  gentility 
that  even  these  ladies  were  at  last  convinced,  albeit  with  great 
difficulty,  that  he  was  what  he  was. 

86.— "We  meet  practical  jokes  of  this  kind  every  day;  but 
among  the  rest  those  are  amusing  which  at  first  excite  alarm 
and  turn  out  well  in  the  end;  for  even  the  victim  laughs  at 
himself  when  he  sees  that  his  fears  were  groundless. 

"  For  instance,  I  was  staying  at  Paglia  *"  one  night,  and  in  the 
same  inn  where  I  was  there  happened  to  be  three  companions 
besides  myself  (two  from  Pistoia  and  the  other  from  Prato), 
who  sat  down  to  play  after  supper,  as  men  often  do.  They  had 
not  been  playing  long  before  one  of  the  two  Pistoians  lost  all  he 
had  and  was  left  without  a  farthing,  so  that  he  began  to  lament 
and  to  curse  and  swear  roundly;  and  he  retired  to  sleep  blas- 
pheming thus.  After  gaming  awhile,  the  other  two  resolved 
to  play  a  trick  upon  the  one  who  had  gone  to  bed.  So,  mak- 
ing sure  that  he  was  really  asleep,  they  put  out  all  the  lights 
and  covered  the  fire;  then  they  began  to  talk  loud  and  to  make 
as  much  noise  as  they  could,  pretending  to  quarrel  over  their 
play,  and  one  of  them  said:  'You've  drawn  the  under  card;' 
and  the  other  denied  it,  saying:  'And  you  have  wagered  on  four 
of  a  suit;  let  us  deal  again;""'  and  the  like,  with  such  an  uproar 
that  the  sleeper  awoke.  And  perceiving  that  his  friends  were 
playing  and  talking  as  if  they  saw  the  cards,  he  rubbed  his 
eyes  a  little,  and  seeing  no  light  in  the  room,  he  said:  'What 
the  devil  do  you  mean  by  shouting  all  night?'  Then  he  lay 
back  again  as  if  to  go  to  sleep. 

"  His  two  friends  made  no  reply,  but  went  on  as  before; 
whereat  the  man  began  to  wonder  (now  that  he  was  more 



awake)  and  seeing  that  there  was  really  no  fire  or  glimmer  of 
any  kind,  and  that  still  his  friends  were  playing  and  quarrelling, 
he  said:  'And  how  can  you  see  the  cards  without  light?'  One 
of  the  two  replied:  'You  must  have  lost  your  sight  along  with 
your  money;  don't  you  see  with  these  two  candles  we  have 
here?'  The  man  who  was  abed  lifted  himself  upon  his  arms, 
and  said  rather  angrily:  '  Either  I  am  drunk  or  blind,  or  you  are 
lying.'  The  two  got  up  and  groped  their  way  to  the  bed,  laugh- 
ing and  pretending  to  think  that  he  was  making  sport  of  them; 
and  still  he  answered:  '  I  say  I  do  not  see  you.'  Finally  the  two 
began  to  feign  great  surprise,  and  one  said  to  the  other:  'Alas, 
methinks  he  speaks  the  truth.  Hand  me  that  candle,  and  let  us 
see  if  perchance  there  is  something  wrong  with  his  sight.'  Then 
the  poor  fellow  took  it  for  certain  that  he  had  become  blind,  and 
weeping  bitterly  he  said:  'Oh  my  brothers,  I  am  blind;'  and  he 
at  once  began  to  call  on  Our  Lady  of  Loreto,  and  to  implore  her 
to  pardon  the  blasphemies  and  maledictions  that  he  had  heaped 
upon  her  for  the  loss  of  his  money.  His  two  companions  kept 
comforting  him,  and  said:  'It  can't  be  that  you  do  not  see 
us;  'tis  some  fancy  you've  got  into  your  head.'  'Alas,'  replied 
the  other,  •  this  is  no  fancy,  for  I  see  no  more  than  as  if  I  had 
never  had  any  eyes  in  my  head.'  '  Yet  your  sight  is  clear,'  re- 
plied the  two,  and  one  said  to  the  other:  '  See  how  well  he  opens 
his  eyes!  And  how  bright  they  are!  Who  could  believe  that 
he  doesn't  see?'  The  unhappy  man  wept  more  loudly  all  the 
while,  and  begged  mercy  of  God. 

"At  last  they  said  to  him:  '  Make  a  vow  to  go  in  penance  to 
Our  Lady  of  Loreto,"'  barefoot  and  naked,  for  this  is  the  best 
remedy  that  can  be  found;  and  meanwhile  we  will  goto  Acqua- 
pendente'"  and  those  other  places  hard  by  to  see  some  doctor, 
nor  will  we  fail  to  do  everything  we  can  for  you.'  Then  the 
poor  fellow  quickly  knelt  by  his  bed,  and  with  endless  tears  and 
bitter  penitence  for  his  blasphemy  he  made  a  solemn  vow  to  go 
naked  to  Our  Lady  of  Loreto,  and  to  offer  her  a  pair  of  silver 
eyes,  and  to  eat  no  flesh  on  Wednesday  or  eggs  on  Friday,  and 
to  fast  on  bread  and  water  every  Saturday  in  honour  of  Our 
Lady,  if  she  would  grant  him  the  mercy  of  restoring  his  sight. 
His  two  companions  went  into  another  room,  struck  a  light,  and 



laughing  their  very  loudest,  came  back  to  the  unhappy  man, 
who  was  relieved  of  his  great  anguish,  as  you  may  imagine,  but 
was  so  stunned  by  the  terror  that  he  had  passed  through,  that  he 
could  neither  laugh  nor  even  speak;  and  his  two  companions  did 
nothing  but  tease  him,  saying  that  he  must  fulfil  all  his  vows, 
because  he  had  obtained  the  mercy  which  he  sought. 

87.—"  Of  the  other  kind  of  practical  joke,  where  a  man  deceives 
himself,  I  shall  give  no  other  example  than  the  one  that  was 
played  on  me  not  very  long  ago. 

"  During  the  last  carnival,  my  friend  Monsignor  of  San  Pietro 
ad  Vincula'"  (who  knows  how  fond  I  am  of  playing  tricks  on 
the  friars  when  I  am  masked,  and  who  had  carefully  arranged 
beforehand  what  he  meant  to  do)  came  one  day  with  Mon- 
signor of  Aragon '"  and  a  few  other  cardinals,  to  certain  windows 
in  the  Banchi,^''  ostensibly  for  the  purpose  of  seeing  the  mask- 
ers pass,  as  the  custom  is  at  Rome.  I  came  along  in  my  mask, 
and  seeing  a  friar  (somewhat  apart)  who  had  a  little  air  of  hesita- 
tion, I  thought  I  had  found  my  chance  and  rushed  upon  him  like 
a  hungry  falcon  on  its  prey.  And  first  having  asked  him  who 
he  was  and  received  his  answer,  I  pretended  to  know  him,  and 
with  many  words  began  to  make  him  think  that  the  chief  con- 
stable was  out  in  search  of  him  (because  of  certain  evil  reports 
that  had  been  received  against  him),  and  to  urge  him  to  go  with 
me  to  the  Chancery,""  where  I  would  put  him  in  safety.  Fright- 
ened and  trembling  from  head  to  foot,  the  friar  seemed  not  to 
know  what  to  do  and  said  he  feared  being  taken  if  he  went  far 
from  San  Celso."'  I  said  so  much  to  encourage  him,  however, 
that  he  mounted  my  crupper;  and  then  I  thought  I  had  fully 
succeeded  in  my  scheme.  So  I  at  once  began  to  make  for  the 
Banchi,  my  horse  frisking  and  kicking  the  while.  Now  imagine 
what  a  fine  sight  a  friar  made  on  a  masker's  crupper,  with  cloak 
flying  and  head  tossed  to  and  fro,  and  looking  all  the  time  as  if 
he  were  about  to  fall. 

"  At  this  fine  spectacle  those  gentlemen  began  to  throw  eggs 
on  us  from  the  windows,  as  did  all  the  Banchi  people  and  every- 
one who  was  there, — so  that  hail  never  fell  from  heaven  with 
greater  violence  than  from  those  windows  fell  the  eggs,  most  of 
which  came  on  me.     Being  masked  as  I  was,  I  did  not  care  and 



thought  that  all  the  laughter  was  for  the  friar  and  not  for  me; 
and  so  I  went  up  and  down  the  Banclii  several  times  with  this 
fury  always  at  my  back,  although  the  friar  with  tears  in  his  eyes 
begged  me  to  let  him  dismount  and  not  to  shame  his  cloth  in  this 
way.  Then  the  knave  had  eggs  given  him  on  the  sly  by  some 
lackeys  stationed  there  for  the  purpose,  and  pretending  to  hold 
me  fast  to  keep  from  falling,  he  broke  them  over  my  breast,  often 
over  my  head,  and  sometimes  on  my  very  brow,  until  I  was  com- 
pletely bedaubed.  Finally,  when  everyone  was  weary  both  of 
laughing  and  of  throwing  eggs,  he  jumped  off  my  crupper,  and 
pushing  back  his  cowl  showed  me  his  long  hair,  and  said:  '  Mes- 
ser  Bernardo,  I  am  one  of  the  grooms  at  San  Pietro  ad  Vincula, 
and  it  is  I  who  take  care  of  your  little  mule.' 

"  I  know  not  which  was  then  greatest,  my  grief,  my  anger,  or 
my  shame.  However,  as  the  least  of  evils,  I  set  out  fast  for 
home,  and  dared  not  make  an  appearance  the  next  morning;  but 
the  laughter  raised  by  this  trick  lasted  not  only  the  next  day, 
but  nearly  until  now." 

88 — And  so,  after  they  had  again  laughed  awhile  at  the  story, 
messer  Bernardo  continued: 

"  There  is  another  very  amusing  kind  of  practical  joke,  which 
gives  opportunity  for  pleasantry  as  well,  when  we  pretend  to 
think  that  a  man  wishes  to  do  something  which  in  fact  he  does 
not  wish  to  do.  For  instance,  one  evening  after  supper,  when  I 
was  on  the  bridge  at  Lyons  and  jesting  with  Cesare  Beccadello '" 
as  we  walked  along,  we  began  to  seize  each  other  by  the  arm  as 
if  we  w^ere  bent  on  wrestling,  for  by  chance  no  one  else  ap- 
peared on  the  bridge  at  the  time.  While  we  were  standing  thus, 
two  Frenchmen  came  up,  and  on  seeing  our  dispute  they  asked 
what  the  matter  was,  and  stopped  to  try  to  separate  us,  thinking 
that  we  were  quarrelling  in  earnest.  Then  I  said  quickly:  '  Help 
me,  Sirs,  for  this  poor  gentleman  loses  his  reason  at  certain 
changes  of  the  moon,  and  you  see  he  is  now  trying  to  throw  him- 
self off  the  bridge  into  the  water.'  Thereupon  these  two  men 
ran,  and  with  my  aid  seized  Cesare  and  held  him  very  tight;  and 
he,  telling  me  all  the  while  that  I  was  mad,  tried  harder  to  free 
himself  from  their  hands,  and  they  held  him  all  the  tighter. 
Thus  the  passers-by  gathered  to  look  at  the   disturbance,  and 



everyone  ran  up.  And  the  more  poor  Cesare  struck  out  with  his 
hands  and  feet  (for  he  was  now  beginning  to  grow  angry),  the 
more  people  arrived;  and  from  the  great  effort  that  he  made, 
they  fully  believed  he  was  trying  to  jump  into  the  river,  and  on 
that  account  held  him  the  tighter.  So  that  a  great  crowd  of 
men  carried  him  bodily  to  the  inn,  all  dishevelled,  capless,  pale 
with  anger  and  shame;  for  nothing  he  said  availed  him,  partly 
because  the  Frenchmen  did  not  understand  him,  and  also  partly 
because,  as  I  walked  along  leading  them  to  the  inn,  I  kept  la- 
menting the  poor  man's  misfortune  in  being  thus  stricken  mad. 

89.—"  Now,  as  we  have  said,  it  would  be  possible  to  talk  at 
length  about  practical  jokes;  but  suffice  it  to  repeat  that  the 
occasions  which  give  opportunity  for  them  are  the  same  as  in 
the  case  of  pleasantries.  Moreover  we  have  an  infinity  of 
examples  because  we  see  them  every  day.  Among  others  there 
are  many  amusing  ones  in  the  Novelle  of  Boccaccio,  like  those 
which  Bruno  and  Buffalmacco  played  upon  their  friend  Calan- 
drino  and  upon  master  Simone,™  and  many  others  played  by 
women,  that  are  truly  clever  and  fine. 

"  I  remember  having  known  in  my  time  many  other  amusing 
men  of  this  sort,  and  among  others  a  certain  Sicilian  student  at 
Padua,  called  Ponzio;'"  who  once  saw  a  peasant  with  a  pair  of 
fat  capons.  And  pretending  that  he  wished  to  buy  them,  he 
struck  a  bargain,  and  told  the  fellow  to  come  home  with  him  and 
get  some  breakfast  besides  the  price  agreed  on.  So  he  led  the 
peasant  to  a  place  where  there  was  a  bell-tower  standing  apart 
from  its  church'"  so  that  one  could  walk  around  it;  and  just 
opposite  one  of  the  four  sides  of  the  tower  was  the  end  of  a  little 
lane.  Here  Ponzio,  who  had  already  settled  what  he  meant  to 
do,  said  to  the  peasant:  '  I  have  wagered  these  capons  with  one 
of  my  friends,  who  says  that  this  tower  measures  quite  forty  feet 
around,  while  I  say  it  does  not.  And  just  before  I  found  you,  I 
had  bought  this  twine  to  measure  it.  Now,  before  we  go  home 
I  wish  to  find  out  which  of  the  two  has  won.'  And  so  saying, 
he  drew  the  twine  from  his  sleeve,  gave  one  end  of  it  to  the 
peasant,  and  said:  'Hand  them  here.'  Thereupon  he  took  the 
capons,  and  holding  the  other  end  of  the  twine  as  if  he  were 
going  to  measure,  he  started  to  walk  around  the  tower,  first 


making  the  peasant  stay  and  hold  the  twine  against  that  side  of 
it  which  was  farthest  from  the  one  that  looked  up  the  little  lane. 
When  he  reached  this  other  side,  he  stuck  a  nail  into  the  wall, 
tied  the  twine  to  it,  and  leaving  the  man  there  he  quietly  went 
off  with  the  capons  up  the  little  lane.  The  peasant  stood  still  a 
long  time  waiting  for  Ponzio  to  finish  the  measurement;  at  last, 
— after  he  had  several  times  said:  •  ^A^hat  are  you  doing  there 
so  long?'  —  he  went  to  look,  and  found  that  it  was  not  Ponzio 
who  was  holding  the  twine,  but  a  nail  stuck  in  the  wall,  and  that 
this  was  all  the  pay  left  him  for  the  capons.  Ponzio  played 
numberless  tricks  of  this  sort. 

"  There  have  also  been  many  other  men  who  were  amusing  in 
like  manner,  such  as  Gonnella,  Meliolo  in  his  day,"""  and  at  the 
present  time  our  friends  Fra  Mariano*"  and  Fra  Serafino"  here, 
and  many  whom  you  all  know.  And  doubtless  this  method  is 
well  enough  for  men  who  have  no  other  business,  but  I  think  the 
Courtier's  practical  jokes  ought  to  be  somewhat  farther  removed 
from  scurrility.  Care  must  be  taken  also  not  to  let  practical 
joking  degenerate  into  knavery,  as  we  see  in  the  case  of  many 
rogues,  who  go  through  the  world  with  sundry  wiles  to  get 
money,  now  pretending  one  thing  and  now  another.  Moreover 
the  Courtier's  tricks  must  not  be  too  rude;  and  above  all  let  him 
pay  respect  and  reverence  to  women  in  this  as  in  all  other 
things,  and  especially  where  their  honour  may  be  touched." 

go.— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  Indeed,  messer  Bernardo,  you  are  too  partial  towards 
women.  And  why  would  you  have  men  pay  more  respect  to 
women  than  women  to  men?  Should  not  our  honour  be  as  dear 
to  us,  forsooth,  as  theirs  to  them?  Do  you  think  that  women 
ought  to  taunt  men  with  words  and  nonsense  without  the  least 
restraint  in  anything,  and  that  men  should  quietly  endure  it  and 
thank  them  into  the  bargain?" 

Then  messer  Bernardo  replied: 

"  I  do  not  say  that  in  their  pleasantries  and  practical  jokes 
women  ought  not  to  use  towards  men  the  same  respect  which 
we  have  before  described;  but  I  do  say  they  may  taunt  men 
with  unchastity  more  freely  than  men  may  taunt  them.  And 
this  is  because  we  have  made  unto  ourselves  a  law,  whereby 



free  living  is  in  us  neither  vice  nor  fault  nor  disgrace,  while  in 
women  it  is  such  utter  infamy  and  shame  that  she  of  whom  evil 
is  once  spoken  is  disgraced  forever,  whether  the  imputation™ 
cast  upon  her  be  false  or  true.  Wherefore,  since  speaking  of 
women's  honour  brings  such  risk  of  doing  them  grievous  harm, 
I  say  we  ought  to  attack  them  in  some  other  way,  and  to  abstain 
from  this;  because  to  strike  too  hard  with  our  pleasantries  and 
practical  jokes,  is  to  exceed  the  bounds  that  we  have  before  said 
are  befitting  a  gentleman." 

91.— As  messer  Bernardo  paused  a  little  here,  my  lord  Ottaviano 
Fregoso  said,  laughing: 

*'  My  lord  Caspar  might  answer  you  that  this  law  ydu  refer  to, 
which  we  have  made  unto  ourselves,  is  perhaps  not  so  unreason- 
able as  it  seems  to  you.  For  since  women  were  very  imperfect 
creatures  and  of  little  or  no  worth  in  comparison  with  men,  and 
since  of  themselves  they  were  not  capable  of  performing  any 
worthy  act, —  it  was  necessary  by  fear  of  shame  and  infamy  to 
lay  upon  them  a  restraint  that  might  impart  some  quality  of 
goodness  to  them  almost  against  their  will.  And  chastity 
seemed  more  needful  for  them  than  any  other  quality,  in  order 
to  have  certainty  as  to  our  offspring;  hence  it  was  necessary  to 
use  every  possible  skill,  art  and  way  to  make  women  chaste,  and 
almost  to  permit  them  to  be  of  little  worth  in  all  things  else  and 
to  do  constantly  the  reverse  of  what  they  ought.  Therefore, 
since  they  are  allowed  to  commit  all  other  faults  without  blame, 
if  we  taunt  them  with  those  defects  which  (as  we  have  said)  are 
all  permitted  to  them  and  therefore  not  incongruous  in  them, 
and  of  which  they  take  no  heed, — we  shall  never  arouse 
laughter;  for  you  said  awhile  ago  that  laughter  is  aroused  by 
certain  things  that  are  incongruous." 

92 — Then  my  lady  Duchess  said : 

"  You  speak  thus  of  women,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  and  then  you 
complain  that  they  love  you  not." 

"  I  do  not  complain  of  this,"  replied  my  lord  Ottaviano,  "  but 
rather  thank  them  in  that  they  do  not,  by  loving  me,  force  me  to 
love  them.  Nor  am  I  speaking  my  own  mind,  but  saying  that 
my  lord  Caspar  might  use  these  arguments." 

Messer  Bernardo  said: 


"Verily  it  would  be  a  great  gain  to  women  if  they  could  con- 
ciliate two  such  great  enemies  of  theirs  as  you  and  my  lord 
Gaspar  are." 

"  I  am  not  their  enemy,"  replied  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  but  you  are 
indeed  an  enemy  of  men;  for  if  you  would  not  have  women 
taunted  as  to  their  honour,  you  ought  also  to  impose  on  them  a 
law  that  they  shall  not  taunt  men  for  that  which  is  as  shame- 
ful to  us  as  unchastity  is  to  women.  And  why  was  not 
Alonso  Carillo's  retort  to  my  lady  Boadilla  (about  hoping  to 
escape  with  his  life  by  being  asked  to  become  her  husband)  as 
seemly  in  him,  as  it  was  for  her  to  say  that  all  who  knew  him 
thought  the  king  was  about  to  have  him  hanged?  And  why  was 
it  not  as  allowable  for  Riciardo  Minutoli  to  deceive  Filippello's 
wife  and  get  her  to  go  to  that  resort,  as  for  Beatrice  to  make  her 
husband  Egano'"  get  out  of  bed  and  be  cudgelled  by  Anichino, 
after  she  had  long  been  with  the  latter?  And  for  that  other 
woman  to  tie  a  string  to  her  toe  and  make  her  husband  believe 
that  she  was  someone  else? — since  you  say  that  these  women's 
pranks  in  Giovanni  Boccaccio  are  so  clever  and  fine." 

93-— Then  messer  Bernardo  said,  laughing: 

"  My  Lords,  as  my  task  was  simply  to  discuss  pleasantries,  I 
do  not  mean  to  go  outside  my  subject.  And  I  think  I  have 
already  told  why  it  does  not  seem  to  me  befitting  to  attack 
women  in  their  honour  either  by  word  or  deed,  and  have  im- 
posed on  them  as  well  a  rule  that  they  shall  not  touch  men  in  a 
tender  spot. 

"  As  for  the  pranks  and  sallies  cited  by  you,  my  lord  Gaspar, 
I  grant  that  although  what  Alonso  said  to  my  lady  Boadilla 
may  touch  a  little  on  her  chastity,  it  still  does  not  displease  me, 
because  it  is  very  remote,  and  is  so  veiled  that  it  may  be  taken 
innocently,  and  the  speaker  might  disguise  his  meaning  and 
declare  he  had  not  meant  it.  He  said  another  that  was  to  my 
thinking  very  unseemly.  And  it  was  this:  as  the  queen''"  was 
passing  my  lady  Boadilla's  house,"*  Alonso  saw  the  door  all 
blackened  with  pictures  of  those  indecencies  that  are  painted 
about  inns  in  such  variety;  and  turning  to  the  Countess  of  Cas- 
tagneta,™  he  said;  'There,  my  Lady,  are  the  heads  of  the  game 
that  my  lady  Boadilla  slays  in  hunting  every  day.'     You  see  that 





while  the  metaphor  is  clever  and  aptly  borrowed  from  hunters 
(who  take  pride  in  having  many  heads  of  beasts  fastened  on  their 
doors),  yet  it  is  scurrilous  and  disgraceful.  Besides  which,  it 
was  not  an  answer  to  anything;  for  it  is  far  less  rude  to  say  a 
thing  by  way  of  retort,  because  then  it  seems  to  have  been  pro- 
voked and  needs  must  be  impromptu. 

"  Returning,  however,  to  the  subject  of  tricks  played  by  women, 
I  do  not  say  they  do  well  to  deceive  their  husbands,  but  I  say 
that  some  of  those  deceptions  (which  Giovanni  Boccaccio  re- 
counts of  women)  are  fine  and  very  clever,  and  especially  those 
which  you  yourself  told.  But  in  my  opinion  the  trick  played  by 
Riciardo  Minutoli  goes  too  far,  and  is  much  more  heartless  than 
the  one  played  by  Beatrice;  because  Riciardo  Minutoli  did  much 
greater  wrong  to  Filippello's  wife  than  Beatrice  did  to  her  hus- 
band Egano,  for  by  his  deception  Riciardo  forced  the  woman's 
will  and  made  her  do  with  herself  something  that  she  did  not 
wish  to  do,  while  Beatrice  deceived  her  husband  in  order  that 
she  might  do  with  herself  something  that  pleased  her." 

94-— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  Beatrice  can  be  excused  on  no  other  plea  than  that  of  love, 
which  ought  to  be  allowed  in  the  case  of  men  as  well  as  in  that 
of  women." 

Then  messer  Bernardo  replied: 

"  No  doubt  the  passion  of  love  affords  great  excuse  for  every 
fault.  But  for  my  part  I  think  that  a  gentleman  of  worth,  who 
is  in  love,  ought  to  be  sincere  and  truthful  in  this  as  in  all  things 
else;  and  if  it  be  true  that  to  betray  even  an  enemy  is  such  a 
vile  act  and  abominable  crime,  consider  how  much  more  heinous 
the  offence  ought  to  be  deemed  when  it  is  committed  against 
one  whom  we  love. 

"  Moreover,  I  think  that  every  gentle  lover  endures  so  many 
toils,  so  many  vigils,  braves  so  many  perils,  sheds  so  many  tears, 
employs  so  many  means  and  ways  to  please  the  lady  of  his  love, 
— not  chiefly  in  order  to  possess  her  person,  but  to  capture  the 
fortress  of  her  mind,  and  to  shatter  those  hardest  diamonds,  to 
melt  that  coldest  ice,  that  often  are  in  the  tender  breast  of 
woman.  This,  I  think,  is  the  true  and  sound  pleasure  and  the 
purposed  goal  of  every  noble  heart.     For  myself,  were  I  in  love, 



I  certainly  should  prefer  to  be  assured  that  she  whom  I  served 
returned  my  love  from  her  heart  and  had  given  me  her  mind, — 
without  ever  having  any  other  satisfaction  from  her, —  than  to 
enjoy  her  to  the  full  against  her  will;  for  in  such  case  I  should 
deem  myself  the  master  of  a  lifeless  body.  Hence  they  who 
pursue  their  desires  by  means  of  such  trickery,  which  might 
perhaps  be  called  treachery  rather  than  trickery,  do  injury  to 
others;  nor  have  they  yet  that  bliss  which  is  to  be  desired  in 
love,  if  they  possess  the  body  without  the  will. 

"  The  same  I  say  of  certain  others  who  use  enchantments  in 
their  love,  charms  and  sometimes  force,  sometimes  sleeping 
potions  and  such  like  things.  Be  assured,  too,  that  gifts  much 
lessen  the  pleasures  of  love;  for  a  man  may  suspect  that  he  is 
not  loved  and  that  his  lady  makes  a  show  of  loving  him  in  order 
to  profit  by  it.  Hence  you  see  that  great  ladies'  love  is  prized 
because  it  could  hardly  spring  from  other  source  than  real  and 
true  affection,  nor  is  it  credible  that  a  great  lady  should  ever 
pretend  to  love  one  of  her  inferiors  unless  she  loves  him  truly." 

95-— Then  my  lord  Caspar  replied: 

•'  I  do  not  deny  that  the  purpose,  toils  and  dangers  of  lovers 
ought  to  have  their  aim  directed  chiefly  towards  the  conquest  of 
the  mind  rather  than  of  the  body  of  their  beloved.  But  I  say 
that  these  deceits,  which  you  call  treachery  in  men  and  trickery 
in  women,  are  excellent  means  of  attaining  this  aim,  for  whoever 
possesses  a  woman's  person  is  master  of  her  mind  as  well.  And 
if  you  remember  rightly,  Filippello's  wife,  after  much  lament 
over  the  deceit  practised  on  her  by  Riciardo,  discovered  how 
much  more  delicious  than  her  husband's  were  the  kisses  of  her 
lover,  and  her  coldness  to  Riciardo  changed  to  sweet  affection, 
so  that  from  that  day  forth  she  loved  him  most  tenderly.  Thus 
it  came  about  that  what  his  frequent  fond  visits,  his  gifts  and 
countless  other  tokens  shown  unceasingly,  could  not  affect,  a 
taste  of  his  embraces  soon  accomplished.  You  now  see  that  this 
same  trickery,  or  treachery  as  you  would  call  it,  was  a  good  way 
to  capture  the  fortress  of  her  inind." 

Then  messer  Bernardo  said: 

"You  advance  a  very  false  premise,  for  if  women  always  sur- 
rendered their  mind  to  the  man  who  possessed  their  person,  no 



wife  would  be  found  who  did  not  love  her  husband  more  than 
every  other  person  in  the  world;  the  contrary  of  which  we  find 
to  be  the  case.  But  Giovanni  Boccaccio  was  very  unjustly  hostile 
to  women,  as  you  are  also.'"" 

96.— My  lord  Gaspar  replied: 

"  I  am  not  at  all  hostile  to  them;  but  there  are  very  few  men 
of  worth  who  as  a  rule  make  any  account  of  women  whatever, 
although  for  their  own  purposes  they  sometimes  pretend  the 

Then  messer  Bernardo  replied: 

"  You  wrong  not  women  only,  but  also  all  men  who  hold  them 
in  respect.  However,  as  I  said,  I  do  not  wish  for  the  present  to 
go  outside  my  original  subject  of  practical  joking,  and  enter 
upon  so  difficult  an  enterprise  as  would  be  the  defence  of  women 
against  you,  who  are  a  most  redoubtable  warrior.  So  I  will 
make  an  end  of  this  talk  of  mine,  which  has  perhaps  been  far 
longer  than  was  necessary,  and  certainly  less  amusing  than  you 
expected.  And  since  I  see  the  ladies  sit  so  quiet,  enduring  your 
insults  thus  patiently  as  they  do,  I  shall  henceforth  regard  a  part 
of  what  my  lord  Ottaviano  said  as  true,  namely,  that  they  care 
not  what  other  evil  is  said  of  them,  provided  they  be  not  taunted 
with  lack  of  chastity,^ 

Then  at  a  signal  from  my  lady  Duchess,  many  of  the  ladies 
rose  to  their  feet,  and  all  ran  laughing  towards  my  lord  Gaspar, 
as  if  to  shower  blows  upon  him  and  treat  him  as  the  bacchants 
treated  Orpheus,'**— meanwhile  saying: 

"  You  shall  see  now  whether  we  care  if  evil  be  said  of  us." 

97-— Thus,  partly  because  of  the  laughter  and  partly  because 
everyone  rose  to  his  feet,  the  drowsiness  that  had  seized  the 
eyes  and  mind  of  some,  seemed  to  flee  away;  but  my  lord 
Gaspar  began  to  say: 

"  You  see  that  being  in  the  wrong,  they  would  fain  use  force 
and  thus  end  the  discussion  by  giving  us  a  Braccesque  leave,  as 
the  saying  is."'^ 

Then  my  lady  Emilia  replied: 

"  Nay,  that  shall  not  help  you;  for  when  you  saw  messer  Ber- 
nardo wearied  by  his  long  talk,  you  began  to  say  all  manner  of 
evil  about  women,  thinking  to  have  no  antagonist.  But  we 


shall  put  a  fresh  champion  in  the  field  to  fight  you,  to  the  end 
that  your  offence  may  not  go  long  unpunished." 

So,  turning  to  the  Magnifico  Giuliano,  who  had  thus  far 
spoken  little,  she  said: 

'*  You  are  accounted  the  defender  of  women's  honour;  where- 
fore the  time  has  come  for  you  to  show  that  you  have  not  ac- 
quired this  title  falsely.  And  if  hitherto  you  have  ever  found 
profit  in  your  office,  you  ought  now  to  consider  that  by  putting 
down  so  bitter  an  enemy  of  ours,  you  will  render  all  women  still 
more  beholden  to  you,  so  much  so  that  although  nothing  else  be 
ever  done  but  requite  you,  yet  the  obligation  must  always  stand 
and  can  never  fully  be  requited." 

98.— Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"  My  Lady,  methinks  you  do  your  enemy  much  honour,  and 
your  defender  very  little;  for  so  far  my  lord  Caspar  has  certainly 
said  nothing  against  women  that  messer  Bernardo  has  not  most 
consummately  answered.  And  I  believe  we  all  know  that  it  is 
fitting  for  the  Courtier  to  show  women  the  greatest  reverence, 
and  that  he  who  is  discreet  and  courteous  must  never  taunt 
them  with  lack  of  chastity,  either  in  jest  or  in  earnest.  There- 
fore, to  discuss  such  obvious  truth  as  this,  is  almost  to  cast  doubt 
upon  that  which  is  undoubted.  But  indeed  I  think  my  lord 
Ottaviano  went  rather  tpo  far  when  he  said  that  women  are 
very  imperfect  creatures;  incapable  of  any  worthy  action,  and 
possessed  of  little  or  no  aignity  in  comparison  with  men.  And 
as  trust  is  often  placed  in  those  who  have  great  authority,  even 
when  they  say  what  is  not  the  exact  truth  and  also  when  they 
speak  in  jest, — my  lord  Caspar  suffered  himself  to  be  led  by  my 
lord  Ottaviano's  words  to  say  that  wise  men  make  no  account 
of  women  whatever,  which  is  most  false.  On  the  contrary,  I 
have  known  very  few  men  of  merit  who  did  not  love  and  hon- 
our women, — whose  worth  (and  so  whose  dignity)  I  regard  as 
in  no  wise  inferior  to  men's. 

"  Yet  if  this  were  to  be  the  subject  of  dispute,  women's  cause 
would  be  at  serious  disadvantage;  because  these  gentlemen 
have  described  a  Courtier  so  excellent  and  of  such  heavenly 
accomplishments,  that  whoso  undertook  to  consider  him  as  they 
have  pictured  him,  would  imagine  that  women's  merits  could 



Y-rt^u:  vut;     "irriHr/nti^ 



'^rtMfn^    C 

JtrtvrfK^  I 

iZfJlHO  .01. 

■it  0J03IVJ 



Bernardo  Accoltl 






From  negatives,  made  by  Signor  Lanzoni,  from  originals  preserved  in  the  Royal  State 
Archivea  at  Mantua  and  selected  by  the  Director,  Signor  Alessandro  Luzlo. 


not  attain  that  pitch.  But  if  the  contest  were  to  be  fair,  we 
should  first  need  to  have  someone  as  clever  and  eloquent  as 
Count  Ludovico  and  messer  Federico  are,  to  describe  a  Court 
Lady  with  all  the  perfections  proper  to  woman,  just  as  they  have 
described  the  Courtier  with  the  perfections  proper  to  man.  And 
then,  if  he  who  defended  their  cause  were  of  only  moderate 
cleverness  and  eloquence,  I  think  that  with  truth  for  ally,  he 
would  clearly  prove  that  women  are  as  full  of  virtue  as  men 

"  Nay,"  replied  my  lady  Emilia,  *'  far  more  so;  and  in  proof  of 
this,  you  see  that  virtue  (Ja  virtu)  is  feminine,  and  vice  (il  visio) 
is  masculine.'"" 

99— Then  my  lord  Caspar  laughed,  and  turning  to  messer 
Niccolo  Frisio,  said: 

"  What  think  you  of  this,  Frisio?" 

Frisio  replied: 

"  I  am  sorry  for  my  lord  Magnifico,  who  has  been  beguiled  by 
my  lady  Emilia's  promises  and  soft  words  into  the  errour  of  say- 
ing that  which  I  blush  for  on  his  behalf." 

My  lady  Emilia  replied,  still  laughing: 

"  You  will  be  ashamed  rather  of  yourself,  when  you  see  my 
lord  Caspar  confuted,  confessing  his  own  and  your  errour,  and 
imploring  a  pardon  that  we  shall  refuse  to  grant  him." 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

'*  As  the  hour  is  very  late,  let  the  whole  matter  be  postponed 
until  to-morrow;  especially  since  it  seems  to  me  wise  to  follow 
my  lord  Magnifico's  counsel,  which  is:  that  before  we  enter 
upon  this  controversy,  a  Court  Lady  be  described  with  all  her 
perfections,  just  as  these  gentlemen  have  described  the  perfect 

Then  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"  My  Lady,  God  forbid  that  we  chance  to  entrust  this  task  to 
any  fellow-conspirator  of  my  lord  Gaspar,  who  will  describe  us 
a  Court  Lady  that  can  do  naught  but  cook  and  spin." 

Frisio  said: 

"  But  this  is  her  proper  calling." 

Then  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"  I  am  willing  to  trust  my  lord  Magnifico,  who  will  (with  the 


cleverness  and  good  sense  which  I  know  are  his)  imagine  the 
highest  perfection  that  can  be  desired  in  woman,  and  will  set  it 
forth  in  beautiful  language  too;  and  then  we  shall  have  some- 
thing to  offer  against  my  lord  Caspar's  false  aspersions." 

100.—"  My  Lady,"  replied  the  Magnifico,  "  I  am  not  sure  how 
\vell  advised  you  are  to  impose  on  me  an  enterprise  of  such 
weight  that  I  really  do  not  feel  myself  sufficient  for  it.  Nor  am 
I  like  the  Count  and  messer  Federico,  who  have  with  their  elo- 
quence described  a  Courtier  that  never  was  and  perhaps  never 
can  be.  Still,  if  it  pleases  you  to  have  me  bear  this  burden,  at 
least  let  it  be  upon  the  same  conditions  as  in  the  case  of  these 
other  gentlemen,  namely:  that  ^veryone  jnay  contradict  me 
when  he  pleases;  for  I  shall  take  it,  not  as  contradiction/but  as^ 
add;  and  perhaps  by  the  correction  of  my  mistakes  we  shall  dis- 
cover that  perfection  of  the  Court  Lady  which  we  seek." 

"  I  hope,"  replied  my  lady  Duchess,  "  that  your  talk  will  be  of 
such  sort  that  little  may  be  found  in  it  to  contradict.  So  give 
your  whole  mind  to  it,  and  describe  for  us  such  a  woman  that 
these  adversaries  of  ours  shall  be  ashamed  to  sliy~she  is  not 
equal  in  worth  to  the  Courtier;  of  whom  it  will  be  well  for  mes- 
ser Federico  to  say  no  more,  since  the  Courtier  has  been  only  too 
well  adorned  by  him,  especially  as  there  is  now  need  to  give 
him  a  paragon  in  woman." 

Then  messer  Federico  said: 

•'  My  Lady,  little  or  nothing  is  now  left  for  me  to  tell  about  the 
Courtier;  and  what  I  thought  of  saying  has  been  driven  from 
my  mind  by  messer  Bernardo's  pleasantries." 

"  If  that  be  so,"  said  my  lady  Duchess,  "  let  us  come  together 
again  early  to-morrow,  and  we  shall  have  time  to  attend  to  both 

Thereupon  all  rose  to  their  feet,  and  having  reverently  taken 
leave  of  my  lady  Duchess,  everyone  went  to  his  own  room. 




!•— We  read  that  Pythagoras  very  ingeniously  and  cleverly 
discovered  the  measure  of  Hercules'sbody;  and  the  way  was  this: 
it. being  known  that  the  space  where  the  Olympic  games  were 
celebrated  every  five  years,  before  the  temple  of  Olympian  Jove 
near  Elis,  in  Achaia,™  had  been  measured  by  Hercules,  and  a 
stadium  made  six  hundred  and  twenty-five  times  the  length  of 
his  own  foot;  and  that  the  other  stadia  which  were  afterwards 
established  throughout  Greece  by  later  generations,  were  like- 
wise of  the  length  of  six  hundred  and  twenty-five  feet,  and  yet 
were  somewhat  shorter  than  the  first  one:  by  this  proportion 
Pythagoras  easily  reckoned  how  much  larger  Hercules's  foot 
was  than  other  human  feet;  and  thus,  knowing  the  measure  of 
the  foot,  from  this  he  argued  that  the  whole  body  of  Hercules 
was  larger  than  other  men's  in  the  same  proportion  that  the 
first  stadium  bore  to  the  other  stadia. 

So  you,  my  dear  messer  Alfonso,  by  the  same  reasoning  may 
clearly  see,  from  this  small  part  of  the  whole  body,  how  superior 
the  court  of  Urbino  was  to  all  others  in  Italy,  considering  how 
much  the  games  that  were  devised  for  the  refreshment  of  minds 
wearied  by  the  most  arduous  labours,  were  superior  to  those 
that  were  practised  in  the  other  courts  of  Italy.  And  if  these 
were  of  such  sort,  think  what  were  the  other  worthy  pursuits  to 
which  our  minds  were  bent  and  wholly  given;  and  of  this  I  con- 
fidently make  bold  to  speak  with  hope  of  being  believed;  for  I 
am  not  praising  things  so  ancient  that  I  might  be  allowed  to 
invent,  but  can  prove  what  I  affirm  by  the  testimony  of  many 
men  worthy  of  faith,  who  are  still  living  and  personally  saw  and 
knew  the  life  and  behaviour  that  one  time  flourished  in  that 
court:  and  I  hold  myself  bound,  as  far  as  I  can,  to  strive  with 
every  effort  to  rescue  this  bright  memory  from  mortal  oblivion, 
and  by  my  writing  to  make  it  live  in  the  hearts  of  posterity. 


Wherefore  perhaps  in  the  future  there  will  not  be  lacking 
some  to  envy  our  century  for  this  also;  since  no  one  reads  the 
wonderful  exploits  of  the  ancients,  who  in  his  mind  does  not 
conceive  a  somewhat  higher  opinion  of  those  that  are  written  of 
than  the  books  themselves  seem  able  to  express,  however  divinely 
they  be  written.  Even  so  we  desire  that  all  to  whose  hands  this 
work  of  ours  shall  come  (if  indeed  it  shall  ever  be  worthy  of  such 
favour  as  to  deserve  being  seen  by  noble  cavaliers  and  virtuous 
ladies)  may  assume  and  take  for  certain  that  the  court  of  Urbino 
was  far  more  excellent,  and  adorned  by  men  of  singular  worth, 
than  we  can  express  in  writing;  and  if  we  had  as  great  elo- 
quence as  they  had  merit,  we  should  have  no  need  of  other  proof 
to  make  our  words  believed  by  those  who  saw  it  not. 

2.— Now  the  company  being  assembled  the  next  day  at  the 
accustomed  hour  and  place,  and  seated  in  silence,  everyone 
turned  his  eyes  to  messer  Federico  and  to  the  Magnifico  Giuli- 
ano,  waiting  to  see  which  of  them  would  begin  the  discussion. 
Wherefore  my  lady  Duchess,  having  been  silent  awhile,  said: 

"  My  lord  Magnifico,  everyone  desires  to  see  this  lady  of  yours 
well  adorned;  and  if  you  do  not  display  her  to  us  in  such  fashion 
that  all  her  beauties  may  be  seen,  we  shall  think  that  you  are 
jealous  of  her." 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  My  Lady,  if  I  deemed  her  beautiful,  I  should  display  her  all 
unadorned  and  in  the  same  fashion  wherein  Paris  chose  to  view 
the  three  goddesses;™  but  if  these  ladies  here,  who  well  know 
how,  do  not  aid  me  to  deck  her  forth,  I  fear  that  not  only  my 
lord  Caspar  and  Frisio,  but  all  these  other  gentlemen,  will  have 
just  cause  to  say  ill  of  her.  So,  while  still  she  stands  in  some 
repute  for  beauty,  perhaps  it  will  be  better  to  keep  her  hidden, 
and  to  see  what  messer  Federico  has  left  to  say  about  the  Cour- 
tier, which  without  doubt  is  far  more  beautiful  than  my  Lady 
can  be." 

"  What  I  had  in  mind,"  replied  messer  Federico,  "  is  not  so 
necessary  to  the  Courtier  that  it  may  not  be  omitted  without 
any  harm;  nay,  it  is  rather  different  matter  from  that  which  has 
thus  far  been  discussed." 

■"And  what  is  it,  then?"  said  my  lady  Duchess. 



Messer  Federico  replied: 

"  I  had  thought  of  explaining,  as  far  as  I  could,  the  origin  of 
these  companies  and  orders  of  knighthood  established  by  great 
princes  under  different  ensigns:  as  that  of  Saint  Michael  in  the 
House  of  France;™  that  of  the  Garter,  which  bears  the  name  of 
Saint  George,  in  the  House  of  England;""  the  Golden  Fleece  in 
that  of  Burgundy  :'*  and  in  what  manner  these  dignities  are 
bestowed,  and  how  they  who  deserve  them  are  deprived  thereof; 
whence  they  arose,  who  were  the  founders  of  them,  and  to  what 
end  they  were  established:  for  even  in  great  courts  these  knights 
are  always  honoured. 

"  I  thought  too,  if  I  had  time  enough,  to  speak  not  only  of  the 
diversity  of  customs  that  are  in  use  at  the  courts  of  Christian 
princes  in  serving  them,  in  merry-making  and  in  appearing  at 
public  shows,  but  also  to  say  something  of  the  Grand  Turk's'^ 
court,  and  much  more  particularly  of  the  court  of  the  Sophi 
king  of  Persia.'*'  For  having  heard,  from  merchants  who  have 
been  long  in  that  country,  that  the  noblemen  there  are  of  great 
worth  and  gentle  behaviour,  and  that  in  their  intercourse  with 
one  another,  in  their  service  to  ladies  and  in  all  their  actions, 
they  practise  much  courtesy  and  much  discretion,  and  on  occa- 
sion much  magnificence,  much  liberality  and  elegance  in  their 
weapons,  games  and  festivals, —  I  was  glad  to  learn  what  ways 
they  most  prize  in  these  things,  and  in  what  their  pomp  and 
finery  of  dress  and  arms  consist;  in  what  they  differ  from  us,  and 
in  what  they  resemble  us;  what  manner  of  amusements  their 
ladies  practise  and  with  what  modesty  show  favour  to  lovers. 

"  But  indeed  it  is  not  fitting  to  enter  upon  this  discussion  now, 
especially  as  there  is  something  else  to  say,  and  far  more  to  our 
purpose  than  this." 

3.—"  Nay,"  said  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  both  this  and  many  other 
things  are  more  to  the  purpose  than  to  describe  this  Court  Lady; 
seeing  that  the  same  rules  that  are  set  the  Courtier,  serve  also 
for  the  Lady;  for  she,  like  the  Courtier,  ought  to  have  regar^  to 
time  and  place,  and  (as  far  as  her  stupidity  permits)  to  follow 
all  those  other  ways  that  have  been  so  much  discussed.  And 
therefore,  in  place  of  this,  perhaps  it  would  not  have  been  amiss 
to  teach  some  of  the  details  that  pertain  to  the  service  of  the 



Prince's  person,  for  it  is  well  befitting  the  Courtier  to  know  them 
and  to  show  grace  in  practising  them;  or  indeed  to  tell  of  the 
method  to  be  pursued  in  bodily  exercises,  such  as  riding,  han- 
dling weapons  and  wrestling,  and  to  tell  wherein  consists  the 
difficulty  of  these  accomplishments." 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said,  laughing: 

"  Princes  do  not  employ  the  personal  service  of  so  admirable  a 
Courtier  as  this:  and  as  for  bodily  exercises  and  physical  strength 
and  agility,  we  will  leave  to  our  friend  messer  Pietro  Monte 
the  duty  of  teaching  them,  when  he  shall  deem  the  season  more 
convenient;  for  now  the  Magnifico  must  speak  of  nothing  but 
this  Lady,  of  whom,  methinks,  you  are  already  beginning  to  be 
afraid,  and  so  would  make  us  wander  from  our  subject." 

Frisio  replied: 

"  Surely  it  is  irrelevant  and  little  to  the  purpose  to  speak  of 
women  now,  especially  when  more  remains  to  be  said  about  the 
Courtier,  for  we  ought  not  to  mix  one  thing  with  another." 

"You  are  much  in  errour,"  replied  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga; 
"  for  just  as  no  court,  however  great  it  be,  can  have  in  it  adorn- 
ment or  splendour  or  gaiety,  without  ladies,  nor  can  any  Cour- 
tier be  graceful  or  pleasing  or  brave,  or  perform  any  gallant  feat 
of  chivalry,  unless  moved  by  the  society  and  by  the  love  and 
pleasure  of  ladies:  so,  too,  discussion  about  the  Courtier  is  always 
very  imperfect,  unless  by  taking  part  therein  the  ladies  add  their 
touch  of  that  grace  wherewith  they  perfect  Courtiership  and 
adorn  it." 

My  lord  Ottaviano  laughed,  and  said: 

"There  you  have  a  taste  of  that  bait  which  makes  men  fools." 

4-— Then  my  lord  Magnifico,  turning  to  my  lady  Duchess,  said: 

"  Since  so  it  pleases  you,  my  Lady,  I  will  say  what  occurs  to 
me,  but  with  very  great  fear  of  not  satisfying.  And  in  sooth  it 
would  be  a  far  lighter  task  to  describe  a  lady  worthy  to  be 
queen  of  the  world,  than  a  perfect  Court  Lady :  because  of  the 
latter  I  know  not  where  to  take  my  model;  while  for  the  queen 
I  should  not  need  to  go  far,  and  it  would  be  enough  for  me  to 
think  of  the  divine  accomplishments  of  a  lady  whom  I  know,"* 
and,  lost  in  contemplation,  to  bend  all  my  thoughts  to  express 
clearly  in  words  that  which  many  see  with  their  eyes;  and  if  I 


f  ;^ 




From  Alinari'a  photograph  (no.  359)  of  the  portrait,  in  the  UfSzi  Gallery  at  Florence, 
painted  by  Alessandro  AUori  (1535- 1607),  and  believed  to  be  a  copy  of  an  earlier  por- 
trait by  Raphael. 


could  do  no  more,  by  merely  naming  her  I  should   have  per- 
formed my  task." 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"  Do  not  wander  from  your  subject,  my  lord  Magnifico,  but 
hold  to  the  order  given  you  and  describe  the  Court  Lady,  to  the 
end  that  so  noble  a  Lady  as  this  may  have  someone  competent 
to  serve  her  worthily." 

The  Magnifico  continued: 

"  Then,  my  Lady,  to  show  that  your  commands  have  power  to 
induce  me  to  essay  even  that  which  I  know  not  how  to  do,  I  will 
speak  of  this  excellent  Lady  as  I  would  have  her;  and  when  I 
have  fashioned  her  to  my  liking,  not  being  able  then  to  have 
another  such,  like  Pygmalion  I  will  take  her  for  my  own."* 

"And  although  my  lord  Gaspar  has  said  that  the  same  rules 
which  are^set  the  Courtier,  serve  also  for  the  Lady.  I  am  of 
another  mindj  for  while  some  qualities  are  common  to  both  and 
as  necessary lo  man  asTo  woman,  there  are  neveftHeless  some 
others  that  befit  woman  more  than  man,  and  some  are  befitting_ 
man  to  which  she  ought  to  be  wholly  a  stranger.  The  same  I 
say  of  bodily  exercises;  but  above  all,  methinks  that  in  her  ways, 
manners,  words,  gestures  and  bearing,  a  woman  ought  to  be 
very  unlike  a  man;  for  just  as  it  befits  him  to  show  a  certain 
stout  and  sturdy  manliness,  so  it  is  becoming  in  a  woman  to 
have  a  soft  and  dainty  tenderness  with  an  air  of  womanly  sweet- 
ness in  her  every  movement,  which,  in  her  going  or  staying  or 
saying  what  you  will,  shall  always  make  her  seem  the  woman, 
without  any  likeness  of  a  man. 

"Now,  if  this  precept  be  added  to  the  rules  that  these  gentle- 
men have  taught  the  Courtier,  I  certainly  think  she  ought  to  be 
able  to  profit  by  many  of  them,  and  to  adorn  herself  with  admir- 
able accomplishments,  as  my  lord  Gaspar  says.  For  I  believe 
that  many  faculties  of  the  mind  are  as  necessary  to  woman  as  to 
man;  likewise  gentle  birth,  to  avoid  affectation,  to  be  naturally 
graceful  in  all  her  doings,  to  be  mannerly,  clever,  prudent,  not 
arrogant,  not  envious,  not  slanderous,  not  vain,  not  quarrel- 
some, not  silly,  to  know  how  to  win  and  keep  the  favour  of  her 
mistress  and  of  all  others,  to  practise  well  and  gracefully  the 
exercises  that  befit  women.     I  am  quite  of  the  opinion,  too,  that 



beauty  is  more  necessary  to  her  than  to  the  Courtier,  for  in  truth 
that  woman  lacks  much  who  lacks  beauty.  Then,  too,  she  ought 
to  be  more  circumspect  and  take  greater  care  not  to  give  occa- 
sion for  evil  being  said  of  her,  and  so  to  act  that  she  may  not 
only  escape  a  stain  of  guilt  but  even  of  suspicion,  for  a  woman 
has  not  so  many  ways  of  defending  herself  against  false  imputa- 
tions as  has  a  man. 

•'But  as  Count  Ludovico  has  explained  very  minutely  the 
chief  profession  of  the  Courtier,  and  has  insisted  it  be  that  of 
arms,  methinks  it  is  also  fitting  to  tell  what  in  my  judgment  is 
that  of  the  Court  Lady :  and  when  I  have  done  this,  I  shall  think 
myself  quit  of  the  greater  part  of  my  duty. 

5-—"  Laying  aside,  then,  those  faculties  of  the  (^in^  that  she 
ought  to  have  in  common  with  the  Courtier  (such  as  prudence, 
magnanimity^  continence,  and  many  others),  and  likewise  those 
qualities  that  befit  all  women  (such  as  kindness,  discretion,  abil- 
ity to  manage  her  husband's  property  and  her"  house  and  chil- 
dren if  she  be  married,  and  all  those  capacities  that  are  requisite 
in  a  good  housewife),  I  say  that  in  a  lady  who  lives  at  court 
methinks  above  all  else  a  certain  pleasant  affability  is  befitting, 
whereby  she  may  be  able  to  entertain  politely  every  sort  of  man 
with  agreeable  and  seemly  converse,  suited  to  the  time  and 
place,  and  to  the  rank  of  the  person  with  whom  she  may  speak, 
uniting  with  calm  and  modest  manners,  and  with  that  seemliness 
which  should  ever  dispose  all  her  actions,  a  quick  vivacity  of 
spirit  whereby  she  may  show  herself  alien  to  all  indelicacy;  but 
with  such  a  kindly  manner  as  shall  make  us  think  her  no  less 
chaste,  prudent  and  benign,  than  agreeable,  witty  and  discreet: 
and  so  she  must  preserve  a  certain  mean  (difficult  and  composed 
almost  of  contraries),  and  must  barely  touch  certain  limits  but 
not  pass  them. 

"  Thus,  in  her  wish  to  be  thought  good  and  pure,  the  Lady 
ought  not  to  be  so^^coyand  seem  so  to  abhor  comp^any  and  talk 
that  are  a  little  free,  as  to  take  her  leave  as  soon  as  she  finds 
herself  therein;  for  it  might  easily  be  thought  that  she  was  pre- 
tending to  be  thus  austere  in  order  to  hide  something  about  her- 
self which  she  feared  others  might  come  to  know;  and  such 
prudish  manners  are  always  odious.    Nor  ought  she,  on  the 



other  hand,  for  the  sake  of  showing  herself  free  and  agreeable, 
to  utter  unseemly  words  or  practise  a  certain  wild  and  unbridled 
familiarity  and  ways  likely  to  make  that  believed  of  her  which 
perhaps  is  not  true;  but  when  she  is  present  at  such  talk,  she 
ought  to  listen  with  a  little  blush  and  shame. 

"  Likewise  she  ought  to  avoid  an  errour  into  which  I  have 
seen  many  women  fall,  which  is  that  of  saying  and  of  willingly 
listening  to  evil  about  other  women.  For  those  women  who,  on 
hearing  the  unseemly  ways  of  other  women  described,  grow 
angry  thereat  and  seem  to  disbelieve  it  and  to  regard  it  almost 
monstrous  that  a  woman  should  be  immodest, — they,  by  account- 
ing the  offence  so  heinous,  give  reason  to  think  that  they  do  not 
commit  it.  But  those  who  go  about  continually  prying  into 
other  women's  intrigues,  and  narrate  them  so  minutely  and  with 
such  zest,  seem  to  be  envious  of  them  and  to  wish  that  every- 
one may  know  it,  to  the  end  that  like  matters  may  not  be  reck- 
oned as  a  fault  in  their  own  case;  and  thus  they  fall  into  certain 
laughs  and  ways  that  show  they  then  feel  greatest  pleasure. 
And  hence  it  comes  that  men,  while  seeming  to  listen  gladly, 
usually  holdsuch  women  in  small  j^espect  and  have  very  little 
regard  for  them,  and  think  these  ways  of  theirs  are  an  invitation 
to  advance  farther,  and  thus  often  go  such  lengths  with  them  as 
bring  them  deserved  reproach,  and  finally  esteem  them  so  lightly 
as  to  despise  their  company  and  even  find  them  tedious. 

"  And  on  the  other  hand,  there  is  no  man  so  shameless  and 
insolent  as  not  to  have  reverence  for  those  women  who  are 
esteemed  good  and  virtuous;  because  this  gravity  (tempered 
with  wisdom  and  goodness)  is  as  it  were  a  shield  against  the 
insolence  and  coarseness  of  the  presumptuous.  Thus  we  see 
that  a  word  or  laugh  or  act  of  kindness  (however  small  it  be) 
from  a  virtuous  woman  is  more  prized  by  everyone,  than  all  the 
endearments  and  caresses  of  those  who  show  their  lack  of 
shame  so  openly;  and  if  they  are  not  immodest,  by  their  un- 
seemly laughter,  their  loquacity,  insolence  and  like  scurrile  man- 
ners, they  give  sign  of  being  so. 

6 — "  And  since  words  that  carry  no  meaning  of  importance  are 
vain  and  puerile,  the  Court  Lady  must  have  not  only  the  good 
sense  to  discern  the  quality  of  him  with  whom  she  is  speaking, 


but  knowledge  of  many  things,  in  order  to  entertain  him  gra- 
ciously; and  in  her  talk  she  should  know  how  to  choose  those 
things  that  are  adapted  to  the  quality  of  him  with  whom  she  is 
speaking,  and  should  be  cautious  lest  occasionally,  without 
intending  it,  she  utter  words  that  may  offend  him.  Let  her 
guard  against  wearying  him  by  praising  herself  indiscreetly  or 
by  being  too  prolix.  Let  her  not  go  about  mingling  serious 
matters  with  her  playful  or  humourous  discourse,  or  jests  and 
jokes  with  her  serious  discourse.  Let  her  not  stupidly  pretend 
to  know  that  which  she  does  not  know,  but  modestly  seek  to 
do  herself  credit  in  that  which  she  does  know, — in  all  things 
avoiding  affectation,  as  has  been  said.  In  this  way  she  will  be 
adorned  with  good  manners,  and  will  perform  with  perfect  grace 
the  bodily  exercises  proper  to  women;  her  discourse  will  be 
rich  and  full  of  prudence,  virtue  and  pleasantness;  and  thus  she 
will  be  not  only  loved  but  revered  by  everyone,  and  perhaps 
■worthy  to  be  placed  side  by  side  with  this  great  Courtier  as  well 
in  qualities  of  the  mind  as  in  those  of  the  body." 

7-— Having  so  far  spoken,  the  Magnifico  was  silent  and  sat 
quiet,  as  if  he  had  ended  his  discourse.    Then  my  lord  Caspar  said : 

"  Verily,  my  lord  Magnifico,  you  have  adorned  this  Lady  well 
and  given  her  excellent  qualities.  Yet  methinks  you  have  kept 
much  to  generalities,  and  mentioned  some  things  in  her  so 
great  that  I  think  you  were  ashamed  to  explain  them,  and  have 
rather  desired  than  taught  them,  after  the  manner  of  those 
who  sometimes  wish  for  things  impossible  and  beyond  nature. 
Therefore  I  would  have  you  declare  to  us  a  little  better  what 
are  the  bodily  exercises  proper  to  a  Court  Lady,  and  in  what 
way  she  ought  to  converse,  and  what  those  marty  things  are 
whereof  you  say  it  befits  her  to  have  knowledge;  and  whether 
you  mean  that  she  should  use  the  prudence,  the  magnanimity, 
the  continence,  and  the  many  other  virtues  you  have  named, 
merely  to  aid  her  in  the  government  of  her  house,  children  and 
family  (which  however  you  would  not  have  her  chief  profession), 
or  indeed  in  her  conversation  and  graceful  practice  of  those 
bodily  exercises;  and,  by  your  faith,  guard  against  setting  these 
poor  virtues  to  such  menial  duty  that  they  must  needs  be  ashamed 
of  it." 



The  Magnifico  laughed,  and  said: 

"  My  lord  Caspar,  you  cannot  help  showing  your  ill  will  to- 
wards women.  But  in  truth  I  thought  I  had  said  enough,  and 
especially  before  such  hearers;  for  I  am  quite  sure  there  is  no 
one  here  ^ho  does  not  perceive  that  in  the  matter  of  bodily 
exercises  it  does  not  befit  women  to  handle  weapons,  to  ride,  to 
play  tennis,  to  wrestle,  and  to  do  many  other  things  that  befit 

Then  the  Unico  Aretino  said: 

"Among  the  ancients  it  was  the  custom  for  women  to  wrestle 
unclothed  with  men;  but  we  have  lost  this  good  custom,  along 
with  many  others." 

Messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  added: 

"  And  in  my  time  I  have  seen  women  play  tennis,  handle  wea- 
pons, ride,  go  hunting,  and  perform  nearly  all  the  exercises  that 
a  cavalier  can." 

8 The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Since  I  may  fashion  this  Lady  as  I  wish,  not  only  am  I  un- 
willing to  have  her  practise  such  vigourous  and  rugged  manly 
exercises,  but  I  would  have  her  practise  even  those  that  are  be- 
coming to  women,  circumspectly  and  with  that  gentle  daintiness 
which  we  have  said  befits  her;  and  thus  in  dancing  I  would  ;riot3' 
see  her  use  too  active  and  violent  movements,  nor  in  singing  or 
playing  those  abrupt  and  oft-repeated  diminutions  which  show 
more  skill  than  sweetness;  likewise  the  musical  instruments 
that  she  uses  ought,  in  my  opinion,  to  be  appropriate  to  this  in- 
tent. Imagine  how  unlovely  it  would  be  to  see  a  woman  play 
drums,  fifes  or  trumpets,  or  other  like  instruments;  and  this  be- 
cause their  harshness  hides  and  destroys  that  mild  gentleness 
which  so  much  adorns  every  act  a  woman  does.  Therefore 
when  she  starts  to  dance  or  make  music  of  any  kind,  she  ought 
to  bring  herself  to  it  by  letting  herself  be  urged  a  little,  and  with 
a  touch  of  shyness  which  shall  show  that  noble  shame  which  is 
the  opposite  of  effrontery. 

"  Moreover,  she  ought  to  adapt  her  dress  to  this  intent,  and  so 

to  clothe  herself  that  she  may  not  seem  vain  or  frivolous.     But 

since  women  may  and  ought  to  take  more  care  for  beauty  than 

men, — and  there  are  divers  sorts  of  beauty, — this  Lady  ought  to 



have  the  good  sense  to  discern  what  those  garments  are  that 
enhance  her  grace  and  are  most  appropriate  to  the  exercises 
wherein  she  purposes  to  engage  at  the  time,  and  to  wear  them. 
And  if  she  is  conscious  of  possessing  a  bright  and  cheerful 
beauty,  she  ought  to  set  it  off  with  movements,  words  and  dress 
all  tending  towards  the  cheerful;  so  too,  another,  who  feels  that 
her  style  is  gentle  and  serious,  ought  to  accompany  it  with  fash- 
ions of  that  sort,  in  order  to  enhance  that  which  is  the  gift  of 
nature.  Thus,  if  she  is  a  little  more  stout  or  thin  than  the  me- 
dium, or  fair  or  dark,  let  her  seek  help  from  dress,  but  as  co- 
vertly as  possible;  and  while  keeping  herself  dainty  and  neat, 
let  her  always  seem  to  give  no  thought  or  heed  to  it. 

9 — "And  since  my  lord  Caspar  further  asks  what  these  many 
things  are  whereof  she  ought  to  have  knowledge,  and  in  what 
manner  she  ought  to  converse,  and  whether  her  virtues  ought 
to  contribute  to  her  conversation,  —  I  say  I  would  have  her  ac- 
quainted with  that  which  these  gentlemen  wished  the  Courtier 
to  know.  And  of  the  exercises  that  we  have  said  do  not  befit 
her,  I  would  have  her  at  least  possess  such  understanding  as  we 
may  have  of  things  that  we  do  not  practise;  and  this  in  order 
that  she  may  know  how  to  praise  and  value  cavaliers  more  or 
less,  according  to  their  deserts. 

"And  to  repeat  in  a  few  words  part  of  what  has  been  already 
said,  I  wish  this  Lady  to  have  knowledge  of  letters,  music,  paint- 
ing, and  to  know  how  to  dance  and  make  merry;  accompanying 
the  other  precepts  that  have  been  taught  the  Courtier  with  dis- 
creet modesty  and  with  the  giving  of  a  good  impression  of  her- 
self. And  thus,  in  her  talk,  her  laughter,  her  play,  her  jesting, 
in  short,  in  everything,  she  will  be  very  graceful,  and  will  enter- 
tain appropriately,  and  with  witticisms  and  pleasantries  befitting 
her,  everyone  who  shall  come  before  her.  And  although  con- 
tinence, magnanimity,  temperance,  strength  of  mind,  prudence, 
and  the  other  virtues,  seem  to  have  little  to  do  with  entertain- 
ment, I  would  have  her  adorned  with  all  of  them,  not  so  much 
for  the  sake  of  entertainment  (albeit  even  there  they  can  be 
of  service),  as  in  order  that  she  may  be  full  of  virtue,  and  to 
the  end  that  these  virtues  may  render  her  worthy  of  being 
honoured,  and  that  her  every  act  may  be  governed  by  them." 



10.— My  lord  Gaspar  then  said,  laughing: 

"  Since  you  have  given  women  letters  and  continence  and 
magnanimity  and  temperance,  I  only  marvel  that  you  would 
not  also  have  them  govern  cities,  make  laws,  and  lead  armies, 
and  let  the  men  stay  at  home  to  cook  or  spin." 

The  Magnifico  replied,  also  laughing: 

"Perhaps  even  this  would  not  be  amiss."  Then  he  added: 
"  Do  you  not  know  that  Plato,  who  certainly  was  no  great  friend 
to  women,  gave  them  charge  over  the  city,  and  gave  all  other 
martial  duties  to  the  men  ?™  Do  you  not  believe  that  there  are 
many  to  be  found  who  would  know  how  to  govern  cities  and 
armies  as  well  as  men  do?  But  I  have  not  laid  these  duties  on 
them,  because  I  am  fashioning  a  Court  Lady  and  not  a  Queen. 

"  I  well  know  you  would  like  to  repeat  tacitly  that  false  impu- 
tation which  my  lord  Ottaviano  cast  on  women  yesterday: 
namely,  that  they  are  very  imperfect  creatures,  incapable  of 
doing  any  good  act,  and  of  very  little  worth  and  no  dignity  by 
comparison  with  men:  but  in  truth  both  he  and  you  would  be 
greatly  in  the  wrong  if  you  were  to  think  this." 

II.— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  I  do  not  wish  to  repeat  things  already  said;  but  you  would 
fain  lead  me  to  say  something  to  offend  these  ladies'  feelings  in 
order  to  make  them  my  enemies,  just  as  you  wish  to  win  their 
favour  by  flattering  them  falsely.  But  they  are  so  much  above 
other  women  in  discretion  that  they  love  truth  (even  if  it  be  little 
in  their  favour)  more  than  false  praises;  nor  do  they  take  it 
amiss  if  anyone  says  that  men  are  of  greater  dignity,  and  will 
admit  that  you  have  recounted  great  miracles  and  ascribed  to 
the  Court  Lady  certain  absurd  impossibilities,  and  so  many  vir- 
tues that  Socrates  and  Cato  and  all  the  philosophers  in  the  world 
are  as  nothing  by  comparison.  To  tell  the  plain  truth,  I  marvel 
that  you  were  not  ashamed  to  go  so  far  beyond  bounds;  for  it 
ought  to  have  been  quite  enough  for  you  to  make  this  Court 
Lady  beautiful,  discreet,  chaste,  gracious,  and  able  (without 
incurring  infamy)  to  entertain  with  dancing,  music,  games, 
laughter,  witticisms,  and  the  other  things  which  we  see  used  at 
court  every  day.  But  to  insist  on  giving  her  knowledge  of  all 
the  things  in  the  world,  and  to  attribute  to  her  those  virtues  that 


are  so  rarely  seen  in  men  even  in  past  centuries,  is  something 
that  cannot  be  endured  or  hardly  listened  to. 

"  Now,  I  am  far  from  willing  to  affirm  that  women  are  imper- 
fect creatures,  and  consequently  of  less  dignity  than  men,  and 
not  capable  of  those  virtues  that  men  are, — because  these  ladies' 
worth  would  suffice  to  prove  me  wrong:""  but  I  do  say  that  very 
learned  men  have  left  it  in  writing  that  since  nature  always  aims 
and  designs  to  make  things  most  perfect,  she  would  continually 
bring  forth  men  if  she  could;  and  when  a  woman  is  born,  it  is  a 
defect  or  mistake  of  nature,  and  contrary  to  that  which  she 
would  wish  to  do:  as  is  seen  also  in  the  case  of  one  who  is  born 
blind  or  halt  or  with  some  other  defect;  and  in  trees,  many 
fruits  that  never  ripen.  Thus  woman  may  be  said  to  be  a  crea- 
ture produced  by  chance  and  accident;  and  that  this  is  so,  mark 
a  man's  acts  and  a  woman's,  and  judge  therefrom  the  perfection 
of  both.  Yet,  as  these  imperfections  of  women  are  the  fault  of  na- 
ture who  has  made  them  so,  we  ought  not  on  that  account  to  hate 
them  or  fail  to  show  them  that  respect  which  is  their  due.  But 
to  esteem  them  above  what  they  are,  seems  to  me  plain  errour." 

12,— The  Magnifico  Giuliano  waited  for  my  lord  Gaspar  to  con- 
tinue further,  but  seeing  that  he  kept  silent,  said : 

"  As  to  women's  imperfection,  methinks  you  have  adduced  a 
very  weak  argument;  to  which,  although  perhaps  it  be  not 
timely  to  enter  upon  these  subtleties  now,  I  reply  (according  to 
the  opinion  of  one  who  knows  and  according  to  truth)  that  the 
substance  of  anything  you  please  cannot  receive  into  itself  more 
or  less.  For  just  as  no  one  stone  can  be  more  perfectly  stone 
than  another  as  regards  the  essence  of  a  stone,  nor  one  piece  of 
w^ood  more  perfectly  wood  than  another, —  so  one  man  cannot 
be  more  perfectly  man  than  another;  and  consequently  the  male 
will  not  be  more  perfect  than  the  female  as  regards  its  essential 
substance,  because  both  are  included  in  the  species  man,  and 
that  wherein  the  one  differs  from  the  other  is  an  accidental  mat- 
ter and  not  essential.  In  case  you  then  tell  me  that  man  is  more 
perfect  than  woman,  if  not  in  essence,  at  least  in  non-essentials, 
I  reply  that  these  non-essentials  must  pertain  either  to  the  body 
or  to  the  mind;  if  to  the  body  (as  in  that  man  is  more  robust, 
more  agile,  lighter,  or  more  capable  of  toil),  I  say  that  this  is 



proof  of  very  slight  perfection,  because  even  among  men,  they 
who  have  these  qualities  more  than  others  have,  are  not  more 
esteemed  therefor;  and  even  in  wars,  where  the  greater  part  of 
the  work  is  laborious  and  a  matter  of  strength,  the  strongest  are 
yet  not  the  most  prized;  if  to  the  mind,  I  say  that  all  the  things 
that  men  can  understand,  the  same  can  women  understand  too; 
and  where  the  intellect  of  the  one  penetrates,  there  also  can  that 
of  the  other  penetrate." 

I3-— Having  here  made  a  little  pause,  the  Magnifico  Giuliano 
added,  laughing: 

"  Do  you  not  know  that  in  philosophy  this  proposition  is  main- 
tained, that  those  who  are  tender  in  flesh  are  apt  in  mind?  So 
there  is  no  doubt  that  women,  being  tenderer  in  flesh,  are  apter 
in  mind,  and  of  capacity  better  fitted  for  speculation  than  men 
are."     Then  he  continued: 

"  But  leaving  this  aside,  since  you  have  told  me  to  argue  con- 
cerning the  perfection  of  both  from  their  acts,  I  say  that  if  you 
will  consider  the  workings  of  nature,  you  will  find  that  she 
makes  women  what  they  are,  not  by  chance,  but  adapted  to  the 
necessary  end:  for  although  she  makes  therni  not  strong  in  body 
and  of  placid  spirit,  with  many  other  qualities  opposed  to  those 
of  men,  yet  the  characters  of  both  tend  to  one  single  end  condu- 
cive to  the  same  use.  For  just  as  by  reason  of  that  feebleness 
of  theirs  women  are  less  courageous,  so  for  the  same  reason  they 
are  also  more  cautious:  thus  the  mother  nourishes  her  children, 
the  father  instructs  them  and  with  his  strength  earns  abroad 
that  which  she  with  anxious  care  preserves  at  home,  which  is 
not  the  lesser  merit. 

"Again,  if  you  examine  the  ancient  histories  (albeit  men  have 
ever  been  very  chary  of  writing  women's  praises)  and  the  mod- 
ern ones,  you  will  find  that  worth  has  continually  existed  among 
women  as  well  as  among  men;  and  that  there  have  even  been 
those  who  waged  wars  and  won  glorious  victories  therein,  gov- 
erned kingdoms  with  the  highest  prudence  and  justice,  and  did 
everything  that  men  have  done.  As  for  the  sciences,  do  you 
not  remember  having  read  of  many  women  who  were  learned 
in  philosophy?  Others  who  were  very  excellent  in  poetry? 
Others  who  conducted  suits,  and  accused  and  defended  most 



eloquently  before  judges?    Of  handicrafts  it  would  be  too  long 
to  tell,  nor  is  there  need  to  bring  proof  regarding  that. 

"  Therefore,  if  in  essential  substance  man  is  not  more  perfect 
than  woman,  nor  in  non-essentials  either  (and  of  this,  quite 
apart  from  argument,  the  effects  are  seen),  I  do  not  know  in 
what  consists  this  perfection  of  his. 

14.—"  And  since  you  said  that  nature's  aim  is  always  to  bring 
forth  the  most  perfect  things,  and  that  she  therefore  would 
always  bring  forth  man  if  she  could,  and  that  the  bringing  forth 
of  woman  is  rather  an  errour  or  defect  in  nature  than  of  pur- 
pose,—  I  reply  that  this  is  totally  denied;  nor  do  I  see  how  you 
can  say  that  nature  does  not  aim  to  bring  forth  women,  without 
whom  the  human  species  cannot  be  preserved,  whereof  this 
same  nature  is  more  desirous  than  of  everything  else.  For  by 
means  of  this  union  of  male  and  female  she  brings  forth  chil- 
dren, who  repay  the  benefits  received  in  childhood  by  maintain- 
ing their  parents  when  old ;  then  in  turn  they  beget  other  chil- 
dren of  their  own,  from  whom  they  look  to  receive  in  old  age 
that  which  they  in  their  youth  bestowed  upon  their  parents; 
thus  nature,  moving  as  it  were  in  a  circle,  fills  out  eternity  and 
in  this  way  grants  immortality  to  mortals.  Woman  being 
therefore  as  necessary  in  this  as  man,  I  do  not  see  how  the 
one  was  made  more  by  chance  than  the  other. 

"  It  is  very  true  that  nature  aims  always  to  bring  forth  the 
most  perfect  things,  and  hence  means  to  bring  forth  man  after 
his  kind,  but  not  male  rather  than  female.  Nay,  if  she  were 
always  to  bring  forth  male,  she  would  be  working  imperfection; 
for  just  as  from  body  and  soul  there  results  a  compound  more 
noble  than  its  parts,  which  is  man, — so  from  the  union  of  male 
and  female  there  results  a  compound  which  preserves  the 
human  species,  and  without  which  its  members  would  perish. 
And  hence  male  and  female  are  by  nature  always  together,  nor 
can  the  one  exist  without  the  other;  thus  that  ought  not  to  be 
called  male  which  has  no  female,  according  to  the  definition  of 
each;  nor  female,  that  which  has  no  male.  And  as  one  sex 
alone  shows  imperfection,  the  theologians  of  old  attribute  both 
the  one  and  the  other  to  God:"'  wherefore  Orpheus  said  that 
Jove  was  male  and  female;  and  we  read  in  Holy  Writ  that  God 



formed  men  male  and  female  in  his  own  likeness;  and  often  the 
poets,  speaking  of  the  gods,  confuse  the  sex." 

15.— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  I  would  not  have  us  enter  upon  such  subtleties,  because 
these  ladies  will  not  understand  us,  and  although  I  answer  you 
with  excellent  arguments,  they  will  believe  (or  at  least  pretend 
to  believe)  that  I  am  wrong,  and  straightway  will  pronounce 
judgment  to  their  liking.  Yet  since  we  are  already  begun,  I 
will  say  merely  this,  that  (as  you  know  is  the  opinion  of  very 
wise  men)  man  resembles  form,  and  woman  matter;  and  there- 
fore, just  as  form  is  more  perfect  than  matter, — nay,  gives  it  its 
being, — so  man  is  far  more  perfect  than  woman.  And  I  remem- 
ber having  once  heard  that  a  great  philosopher  says  in  some  of 
his  problems:*"  *  Why  is  it  that  a  woman  always  naturally  loves 
the  man  who  first  tasted  the  sweets  of  love  with  her  ?  and  on 
the  contrary  a  man  holds  that  woman  in  hatred  who  was  the 
first  to  give  herself  to  him  ?  '  And  adding  the  reason,  he  affirms 
it  to  be  this:  because  in  this  matter  the  woman  receives  perfec- 
tion from  the  man,  and  the  man  imperfection  from  the  woman; 
and  therefore  everyone  naturally  loves  that  thing  which  makes 
him  perfect,  and  hates  that  which  makes  him  imperfect.  And 
besides  this,  a  great  argument  for  the  perfection  of  man  and  for 
the  imperfection  of  woman  is  that  every  woman  universally 
desires  to  be  a  man,  by  a  certain  natural  instinct  that  teaches 
her  to  desire  her  perfection." 

16.— The  Magnifico  Giuliano  at  once  replied: 

"  The  poor  creatures  do  not  desire  to  be  men  in  order  to  be 
perfect,  but  in  order  to  have  liberty  and  to  escape  that  dominion 
over  them  which  man  has  arrogated  to  himself  by  his  own 
authority.  And  the  analogy  that  you  cite  of  matter  and  form 
does  not  apply  in  everything;  for  woman  is  not  made  perfect  by 
man,  as  matter  by  form:  because  matter  receives  its  being  from 
form  and  cannot  exist  without  it;  nay,  the  more  matter  forms 
have,  the  more  they  have  of  imperfection,  and  are  most  perfect 
when  separated  from  it.  But  woman  does  not  receive  her  being 
from  man;  nay,  just  as  she  is  made  perfect  by  him,  she  also 
makes  him  perfect.  Hence  both  join  in  procreation,  which 
neither  of  them  can  effect  without  the  other. 



"  Therefore  I  will  assign  the  cause  of  woman's  lasting  love 
for  the  first  man  to  whom  she  has  given  herself,  and  of  man's 
hatred  for  the  first  woman,  not  at  all  to  that  which  your  Philoso- 
pher alleges  in  his  problems,  but  to  woman's  firmness  and  con- 
stancy, and  to  man's  inconstancy;  nor  without  natural  reason: 
for  being  warm,  the  male  naturally  derives  from  that  quality 
lightness,  movement  and  inconstancy,  while  from  her  frigidity 
woman  on  the  other  hand  derives  quietness,  firm  gravity,  and 
more  fixed  impressions." 

17 — Then  my  lady  Emilia  turned  to  my  lord  Magnifico  and  said: 

"  For  the  love  of  Heaven,  leave  these  matters  and  forms  of 
yours  awhile,  and  male  and  female,  and  speak  in  such  fashion 
that  you  may  be  understood;  for  we  heard  and  understood  very 
well  the  evil  that  my  lord  Ottaviano  and  my  lord  Gaspar  said  of 
us,  but  now  we  do  not  at  all  understand  in  what  manner  you  are 
defending  us:  so  it  seems  to  me  that  you  are  straying  from  the 
subject  and  leaving  in  everyone's  mind  that  bad  impression 
which  these  enemies  of  ours  have  given  of  us," 

"  Do  not  give  us  that  name,  my  Lady,"  replied  my  lord  Gaspar, 
"  for  it  better  befits  my  lord  Magnifico,  who  by  bestowing  false 
praises  upon  women  shows  that  there  are  none  true  of  them." 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  continued: 

"  Do  not  doubt,  my  Lady,  that  answer  will  be  made  to  every- 
thing. But  I  do  not  wish  to  utter  such  inordinate  abuse  of  men 
as  they  have  uttered  of  women;  and  if  by  chance  there  w^ere 
anyone  to  write  down  our  discussions,  I  should  not  like,  in  a 
place  where  these  matters  and  forms  are  understood,  to  have 
the  arguments  and  reasons  that  my  lord  Gaspar  adduces  against 
you,  appear  to  have  been  without  reply." 

"  I  do  not  see,  my  lord  Magnifico,"  my  lord  Gaspar  then  said, 
"  how  in  this  matter  you  will  be  able  to  deny  that  man  is  by  his 
natural  qualities  more  perfect  than  woman,  who  is  frigid  by 
temperament,  and  man  warm.  And  warmth  is  far  nobler  and 
more  perfect  than  cold,  because  it  is  active  and  productive;  and, 
as  you  know,  the  heavens  send  down  only  warmth  upon  us  here, 
and  not  cold,  which  does  not  enter  into  the  works  of  nature. 
And  hence  I  believe  that  the  frigidity  of  women's  temperament 
is  the  cause  of  their  abasement  and  timidity." 



18 — "  So  you  too,"  replied  the  Magnifico  GiuHano,  "  wish  to 
enter  into  subtleties;  but  you  shall  see  that  you  will  always  have 
the  worst  of  it:  and  that  this  is  true,  listen. 

"I  grant  you  that  warmth  is  in  itself  more  perfect  than  cold; 
but  this  is  not  the  case  with  things  mixed  and  composite;  for  if 
it  were  so,  that  body  which  is  warmer  would  be  more  perfect, 
which  is  false,  because  temperate  bodies  are  most  perfect. 
Moreover,  I  tell  you  that  woman  is  of  frigid  temperament  by 
comparison  with  man,  who  by  excess  of  warmth  is  far  from  tem- 
perate; but  as  for  her,  she  is  temperate  (or  at  least  more  nearly 
temperate  than  man  is)  because  she  has  in  her  a  moisture  pro- 
portioned to  her  natural  warmth,  which  in  man  usually  evapo- 
rates by  reason  of  excessive  dryness  and  is  consumed.  Further- 
more, her  coldness  is  of  the  kind  that  resists  and  moderates  her 
natural  warmth  and  makes  it  more  nearly  temperate;  while  in 
man  the  surplus  warmth  soon  raises  his  natural  heat  to  the 
highest  pitch,  which  wastes  away  for  lack  of  sustenance.  And 
thus,  as  men  lose  more  in  procreation  than  women  do,  it  often 
happens  that  they  are  less  long  lived  than  women;  wherefore 
this  perfection  also  may  be  ascribed  to  women,  that,  living  longer 
than  men,  they  perform  better  than  men  that  which  is  the  intent 
of  nature. 

"  Of  the  warmth  that  the  heavens  shed  upon  us  I  do  not  speak 
now,  because  it  is  of  a  different  sort  from  that  which  we  are  dis- 
cussing; for  being  preservative  of  all  things  under  the  moon's 
orb,  warm  as  well  as  cold,  it  cannot  be  hostile  to  cold.  But  tim- 
idity in  women,  although  it  shows  some  imperfection,  yet  springs 
from  a  praiseworthy  source,  that  is,  from  the  subtlety  and  readi- 
ness of  their  wits,  which  picture  images  to  their  minds  quickly 
and  thus  are  easily  disturbed  by  things  external.  You  will  very 
often  see  men  who  fear  neither  death  nor  anything  else,  and  yet 
cannot  be  called  courageous,  because  they  do  not  know  the  dan- 
ger and  go  like  fools  where  they  see  the  road  open,  and  think  no 
further;  and  this  proceeds  from  a  certain  grossness  of  dull  wits: 
wherefore  we  cannot  say  that  a  fool  is  brave.  But  true  loftiness 
of  mind  comes  from  a  due  deliberation  and  determined  resolve 
to  act  thus  and  so,  and  from  esteeming  honour  and  duty  above 
all  the  dangers  in  the  world;  and  from  being  of  such  stout  heart 


and  courage  (although  death  be  manifest),  that  the  senses  are 
not  clogged  or  frightened,  but  perform  their  office  in  speech  and 
thought  as  if  they  were  most  quiet.  W^e  have  seen  and  heard 
that  great  men  are  of  this  sort;  likewise  many  women,  who  both 
in  ancient  and  in  modern  times  have  displayed  greatness  of 
spirit  and  have  wrought  upon  the  world  effects  worthy  of  infinite 
praise,  not  less  than  men  have  done." 

19 — Then  Frisio  said: 

"  These  effects  began  when  the  first  woman  by  her  transgres- 
sion led  others  to  transgress  against  God,  and  left  the  human 
race  an  heritage  of  death,  sufferings,  sorrows,  and  all  the  miseries 
and  calamities  that  are  felt  in  the  world  to-day." 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"  Since  you  too  are  pleased  to  enter  upon  sacred  things,  do 
you  not  know  that  this  transgression  was  repaired  by  a  Woman, 
who  brought  us  much  greater  gain  than  the  other  had  done  us 
injury,  so  that  the  guilt  is  called  most  fortunate  which  was 
atoned  by  such  merits?  But  I  do  not  now  mean  to  tell  you  how 
inferior  in  dignity  all  human  creatures  are  to  our  Lady  the 
Virgin  (in  order  not  to  mingle  things  divine  w^ith  these  light  dis- 
cussions of  ours) ;  nor  to  recount  how  many  women  have,  with 
infinite  constancy,  suffered  themselves  to  be  cruelly  slain  by 
tyrants  for  Christ's  name,  nor  those  who  by  learned  disputation 
have  confuted  so  many  idolaters.  And  if  you  told  me  that  this 
was  a  miracle  and  grace  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  I  say  that  no  virtue 
merits  more  praise  than  that  which  is  approved  by  the  testi- 
mony of  God.  Many  other  women  also,  of  whom  there  is  less 
talk,  you  yourself  can  see, — especially  by  reading  Saint  Jerome, 
who  celebrates  certain  ones  of  his  time  with  such  admiring 
praises  as  might  well  suffice  for  the  saintliest  man  on  earth."' 

20.—"  Then  consider  how  many  others  there  have  been,  of 
whom  no  mention  is  made  at  all,  because  the  poor  creatures  are 
kept  shut  up,  without  the  lofty  pride  to  seek  the  name  of  saint 
from  the  rabble,  as  many  accursed  hypocrites  do  to-day,  who, — 
forgetful  or  rather  regardless  of  Christ's  teaching,  which  requires 
that  when  a  man  fasts  he  shall  anoint  his  face  in  order  that  he 
may  not  seem  to  fast,  and  commands  that  prayers,  alms,  and 
other  good  works  shall  be  done,  not  in  the  market-place  nor  in 



synagogues,  but  in  secret,  so  that  the  left  hand  shall  not  know  of 
the  right, — afBrm  that  there  is  no  greater  good  thing  in  the 
world  than  to  give  a  good  example:  and  so,  with  averted  head 
and  downcast  eyes,  noising  it  abroad  that  they  will  not  speak  to 
women  or  eat  anything  but  raw  herbs, — dirty,  with  cassocks 
torn,  they  beguile  the  simple.  Yet  they  abstain  not  from  forging 
wills,  setting  mortal  enmities  between  man  and  wife,  and  some- 
times poison,  using  sorceries,  incantations  and  every  sort  of 
villainy.  And  then  they  cite  a  certain  authority  out  of  their  own 
head,  which  says,  si  non  caste,  tamen  caute;^  and  with  this  they 
think  to  cure  every  great  evil,  and  with  good  arguments  to  per- 
suade anyone  who  is  not  right  wary  that  all  sin,  however  grave 
it  be,  is  easily  pardoned  of  God,  provided  it  remain  secret  and  do 
not  give  rise  to  bad  example.  Thus,  under  a  veil  of  sanctity  and 
in  secret  they  often  turn  all  their  thoughts  to  corrupt  the  pure 
mind  of  some  woman;  often  to  sow  hatred  between  brothers; 
to  govern  states;  to  raise  up  one  and  cast  another  down;  to  get 
men  beheaded,  imprisoned  and  proscribed;  to  be  ministers  of 
the  villainies  and  as  it  were  receivers  of  the  thefts  that  many 
princes  commit, 

"  Others  shamelessly  delight  to  appear  dainty  and  fresh,  with 
well-shaven  crown  and  garments  fine,  and  in  walking  lift  the 
cassock  to  display  their  neat  hose  and  their  comeliness  of  person 
in  making  salutations.  Others  use  certain  glances  and  gestures 
even  in  saying  mass,  whereby  they  imagine  they  are  graceful 
and  attract  attention.  Villainous  and  wicked  men,  utter  stran- 
gers not  only  to  religion  but  to  all  good  behaviour;  and  when 
they  are  reproved  for  their  loose  living,  they  make  a  jest  of  it 
and  laugh  at  him  who  speaks  to  them  of  it,  and  almost  make  a 
merit  of  their  vices." 

Then  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

'•  You  take  such  pleasure  in  speaking  ill  of  friars,  that  you  have 
entered  upon  this  subject  without  rhyme  or  reason.  But  you 
are  very  wrong  to  murmur  against  ecclesiastics,  and  you  burden 
your  conscience  quite  needlessly;  since,  but  for  those  who  pray 
to  God  for  us,  we  should  have  much  greater  scourges  than  we 

Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  laughed,  and  said: 


"  How  did  you  guess  so  well,  my  Lady,  that  I  was  speaking  of 
friars,  when  I  did  not  name  them?  But  in  truth  what  I  do  is  not 
called  murmuring,  for  I  speak  very  openly  and  plainly;  nor  am 
I  speaking  of  the  good,  but  of  the  bad  and  guilty,  of  whom  more- 
over I  do  not  tell  the  thousandth  part  of  what  I  know." 

"Do  not  speak  of  friars  now,"  replied  my  lady  Emilia;  "be- 
cause for  my  part  I  esteem  it  grievous  sin  to  listen  to  you,  and  so 
I  shall  go  away  in  order  not  to  listen  to  you." 

21.—"  I  am  content,"  said  the  Magnifico  Giuliano,  "  to  speak  no 
more  of  this;  but  returning  to  the  praises  of  women,  I  say  that 
my  lord  Gaspar  shall  not  find  me  an  admirable  man,  but  I  will 
find  you  a  wife  or  daughter  or  sister  of  equal  and  sometimes 
greater  merit.  Moreover,  many  women  have  been  the  cause  of 
countless  benefits  to  their  men-folk,  and  sometimes  have  cor- 
rected many  a  one  of  his  errours.  Wherefore,  women  being  (as 
we  have  shown)  naturally  capable  of  the  same  virtues  as  men, 
and  the  effects  thereof  being  often  seen,  I  do  not  perceive  why, — 
in  giving  them  what  it  is  possible  for  them  to  have,  what  they 
more  than  once  have  had  and  still  have, — I  should  be  regarded 
as  relating  miracles,  whereof  my  lord  Gaspar  has  accused  me; 
seeing  that  there  have  always  been  on  earth,  and  now  still  are, 
women  as  like  the  Court  Lady  I  have  fashioned,  as  men  like  the 
man  these  gentlemen  have  fashioned." 

Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  Those  arguments  that  have  experience  against  them  do  not 
seem  to  me  good;  and  certainly  if  I  were  to  ask  you  who  these 
great  women  were  that  have  been  as  worthy  of  praise  as  the 
great  men  whose  wives  or  sisters  or  daughters  they  were,  or 
that  have  been  the  cause  of  any  benefit,  and  who  those  were 
that  have  corrected  the  errours  of  their  mien-folk, — I  think  vou 
would  be  embarrassed." 

22._"  Verily,"  replied  the  Magnifico  Giuliano,  "  no  other  thing 
could  make  me  embarrassed  save  their  multitude;  and  had  I 
time  enough,  I  should  tell  you  here  the  story  of  Octavia,"*'  wife 
of  Mark  Antony  and  sister  of  Augustus;  that  of  Porcia,""  Cato's 
daughter  and  wife  of  Brutus;  that  of  Caia  Caecilia,"'  wife  of  Tar- 
quinius  Priscus;  that  of  Cornelia,""  Scipio's  daughter;  and  of 
countless  others  who  are  very  celebrated:  and  not  only  of  our 



own,  but  of  barbarian  nations;  as  that  of  Alexandra,"'  wife  of 
Alexander  king  of  the  Jews,  who, —  after  her  husband's  death, 
when  she  saw  the  people  kindled  with  fury  and  already  up  in 
arms  to  slay  the  two  children  that  he  had  left  her,  in  revenge  for 
the  cruel  and  grievous  bondage  in  which  the  father  had  always 
kept  them, — so  acted  that  she  soon  appeased  their  just  wrath, 
and  by  her  prudence  straightway  won  over  for  her  children 
those  minds  which  the  father,  by  countless  injuries  during  many 
years,  had  made  very  hostile  to  his  offspring." 

"At  least  tell  us,"  replied  my  lady  Emilia,  "how  she  did  it." 
"  Seeing  her  children  in  such  peril,"  said  the  Magnifico,  "  she 
at  once  caused  Alexander's  body  to  be  cast  into  the  middle  of 
the  market-place.  Then,  having  called  the  citizens  to  her,  she 
said  that  she  knew  their  minds  to  be  kindled  with  very  just 
wrath  against  her  husband,  because  the  cruel  injuries  that 
he  had  iniquitously  done  them  deserved  it;  and  that,  as  she  had 
always  wished,  while  he  was  alive,  that  she  could  make  him 
abstain  from  such  a  wicked  life,  so  now  she  was  ready  to  give 
proof  of  it,  and  as  far  as  possible  to  help  them  punish  him  after 
death;  and  therefore  let  them  take  his  body,  and  give  it  as  food 
for  dogs,  and  outrage  it  in  the  most  cruel  ways  they  could 
devise:  but  she  prayed  them  to  have  mercy  upon  her  innocent 
children,  who  could  not  have  either  guilt  or  even  knowledge  of 
the  father's  evil  deeds.  Of  such  efficacy  were  these  words, 
that  the  fierce  wrath  before  conceived  in  the  minds  of  all  that 
people  was  quickly  softened  and  turned  to  a  feeling  of  such  pity, 
that  they  not  only  with  one  accord  chose  the  children  for  their 
rulers,  but  also  gave  most  honourable  burial  to  the  body  of  the 

Here  the  Magnifico  made  a  little  pause;  then  he  added: 
"  Do  you  not  know  that  the  wife  and  daughters  of  Mithridates 
showed  much  less  fear  of  death  than  Mithridates?™  And  Has- 
drubal's  wife  than  Hasdrubal?'^^"  Do  you  not  know  that  Har- 
monia,  daughter  of  Hiero  the  Syracusan,  chose  to  perish  in  the 
burning  of  her  native  city?'""' 
Then  Frisio  said: 

"  Where  obstinacy  is  concerned,  it  is  certain  that  some  women 
are  occasionally  to  be  found  who  never  change  their  purpose; 


like  the  one  who  being  no  longer  able  to  say  '  Scissors '  to  her 
husband,  made  the  sign  of  them  to  him  with  her  hands.'"" 

23— The  Magnifico  Giuliano  laughed,  and  said: 

"  Obstinacy  that  tends  to  a  worthy  end  ought  to  be  called 
steadfastness;  as  was  the  case  of  the  famous  Epicharis,  a  Roman 
freedwoman,  who,  being  privy  to  a  great  conspiracy  against  Nero, 
was  of  such  steadfastness  that,  although  racked  by  all  the  direst 
tortures  that  can  be  imagined,  she  never  betrayed  one  of  her 
accomplices;  while  in  the  same  peril  many  noble  knights  and 
senators  basely  accused  brothers,  friends  and  the  dearest  and 
nearest  they  had  in  the  world."" 

"  'What  will  you  say  of  that  other  woman  who  was  called 
Leaena?  In  whose  honour  the  Athenians  dedicated  a  tongue- 
less  lioness  {lecend)  in  bronze  before  the  gate  of  the  citadel,  to 
show  in  her  the  steadfast  virtue  of  silence;  because  bemg  like- 
w^ise  privy  to  a  conspiracy  against  the  tyrants,  she  was  not  dis- 
miayed  by  the  death  of  two  great  men  (her  friends),  and  although 
rent  by  countless  most  cruel  tortures,  she  never  betrayed  one  of 
the  conspirators.'"" 

Then  madonna  Margarita  Gonzaga  said: 

"  Methinks  you  narrate  too  briefly  these  virtuous  deeds  done 
by  women;  for  these  enemies  of  ours,  although  having  heard 
and  read  them,  yet  pretend  not  to  know  them  and  fain  would 
have  the  memory  of  them  lost:  but  if  you  will  let  us  women  hear 
them,  we  at  least  shall  deem  ourselves  honoured  by  them." 

24-— Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"  So  be  it.  I  wish  to  tell  you  now  of  one  who  did  what  I  think 
my  lord  Gaspar  himself  will  admit  very  few  men  do;"  and  he 
began:  "In  Massilia'^*  there  was  once  a  custom  that  is  believed 
to  have  been  brought  from  Greece,  which  was  that  they  pub- 
licly*" kept  a  poison  compounded  of  hemlock,  and  allowed  any- 
one to  take  it  who  proved  to  the  Senate  that  he  ought  to  lay 
down  his  life  because  of  any  trouble  that  he  found  therein,  or  for 
other  just  cause,  to  the  end  that  whoever  had  suffered  a  too  hos- 
tile fortune  or  had  enjoyed  a  too  prosperous  fortune,  should  not 
drag  on  the  one  or  change  the  other.  Now  Sextus  Pompey, 
finding  himself—"^ 

Here  Frisio,  not  waiting  for  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  to  go  on,  said ; 



"  Methinks  this  is  the  beginning  of  a  long  story." 

Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  turned  to  madonna  Margarita 
laughing,  and  said: 

"  You  see  that  Frisio  will  not  let  me  speak.  I  wished  to  tell 
you  now  about  a  woman  who,  having  shown  to  the  Senate  that 
she  had  good  reason  to  die,  cheerfully  and  fearlessly  took  the 
poison  in  Sextus  Pompey's  presence,  with  such  steadfastness  of 
spirit  and  with  such  affectionate  and  thoughtful  remembrances 
to  her  family,  that  Pompey  and  all  the  others  who  saw  such  wis- 
dom and  confidence  on  a  woman's  part  in  the  dread  hour  of 
death,  were  lost  in  wonderment  and  tears." 

25-— Then  my  lord  Caspar  said,  laughing: 

"  I  too  remember  having  read  a  speech  in  which  an  unhappy 
husband  asks  leave  of  the  Senate  to  die,  and  proves  that  he  has 
just  cause  for  it  in  that  he  cannot  endure  the  continual  annoy- 
ance of  his  wife's  chatter,  and  prefers  to  drink  the  poison,  which 
you  say  was  publicly  kept  for  such  purposes,  than  his  wife's 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"  How  many  poor  women  would  have  just  cause  for  asking 
leave  to  die  because  they  cannot  endure,  I  will  not  say  the  evil 
words,  but  the  very  evil  deeds  of  their  husbands!  I  know  sev- 
eral such,  who  suffer  in  this  world  the  pains  that  are  said  to  be 
in  hell." 

"  Do  you  not  believe,"  replied  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  that  there  are 
also  many  husbands  who  have  such  torment  of  their  wives  that 
they  hourly  wish  for  death?" 

"  And  what  pain,"  said  the  Magnifico,  "  can  wives  give  their 
husbands  that  is  as  incurable  as  are  those  that  husbands  give 
their  wives  ?  —  who  if  not  for  love,  at  least  for  fear,  are  submis- 
sive to  their  husbands." 

"  Certain  it  is,"  said  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  that  the  little  good  they 
sometimes  do  proceeds  from  fear,  since  there  are  few  in  the 
world  who  in  their  secret  hearts  do  not  hate  their  husbands." 

"  Nay,  quite  the  contrary,"  replied  the  Magnifico;  "  and  if  you 
recall  aright  what  you  have  read,  we  see  in  all  the  histories  that 
wives  nearly  always  love  their  husbands  more  than  husbands 
love  their  wives.     When  did  you  ever  see  or  read  of  a  husband 



showing  his  wife  such  a  token  of  love  as  did  the  famous  Camma 
to  her  husband  ?  " 

"  I  do  not  know,"  replied  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  who  the  woman 
was,  nor  what  token  she  showed." 

"  Nor  I,"  said  Frisio. 

"Listen,"  replied  the  Magnifico;  "and  do  you,  madonna  Mar- 
garita, take  care  to  keep  it  in  mind. 

26.—"  This  Camma  was  a  very  beautiful  young  woman,  adorned 
with  such  modesty  and  gentle  manners  that  she  was  admirable 
no  less  for  this  than  for  her  beauty;  and  above  other  things  with 
all  her  heart  she  loved  her  husband,  who  was  called  Synattus. 
It  happened  that  another  gentleman,  who  was  of  much  higher 
station  than  Synattus  and  almost  tyrant  of  the  city  where  they 
lived,  became  enamoured  of  this  young  woman;  and  after  having 
long  tried  by  every  way  and  means  to  possess  her,  and  all  in 
vain,  he  persuaded  himself  that  the  love  she  bore  her  husband 
was  the  sole  cause  that  hindered  his  desires,  and  had  this  Synat- 
tus slain. 

"So  then  urging  her  continually,  he  was  never  able  to  gain 
other  advantage  than  he  had  done  at  first;  wherefore,  his  love 
increasing  daily,  he  resolved  to  take  her  for  his  wife,  although 
she  was  far  beneath  him  in  station.  So,  her  parents  being  asked 
by  Sinoris  (for  thus  the  lover  was  called),  they  began  to  per- 
suade her  to  accept  him,  showing  her  that  her  consent  would  be 
very  advantageous,  and  her  refusal  dangerous  to  her  and  to 
them  all.  After  resisting  them  awhile,  she  at  last  replied  that 
she  was  willing. 

"  Her  parents  had  the  news  brought  to  Sinoris,  who  was 
happy  beyond  measure  and  arranged  that  the  marriage  should 
be  celebrated  at  once.  Both  having  accordingly  come  in  state 
for  the  purpose  to  the  temple  of  Diana,  Camma  had  a  certain 
sweet  drink  brought  which  she  had  prepared;  and  so  before 
Diana's  image  she  drank  half  of  it  in  the  presence  of  Sinoris; 
then  with  her  own  hand  (for  thus  it  was  the  custom  to  do  at 
marriages)  she  gave  the  rest  to  her  spouse,  who  drank  it  all. 

"  When  Camma  saw  that  her  plan  had  succeeded,  she  knelt 
all  joyful  at  the  foot  of  Diana's  image,  and  said: 

"  '  O  Goddess,  thou  who  knowest  the  secrets  of  my  heart,  be 



thou  sure  witness  for  me  how  hardly  I  refrained  from  putting 
myself  to  death  after  my  dear  consort  died,  and  with  what  weari- 
ness I  bore  the  sorrow  of  remaining  in  this  bitter  life,  wherein 
I  felt  no  other  good  or  pleasure  beyond  the  hope  of  that  ven- 
geance which  now  I  find  I  have  attained.  Joyful  and  content, 
then,  I  go  to  seek  the  sweet  company  of  that  soul  which  in  life 
and  in  death  I  have  loved  more  than  myself.  And  thou,  wretch, 
who  thoughtest  to  be  my  husband,  instead  of  the  marriage  bed 
give  order  that  thy  tomb  be  made  ready  for  thee,  for  I  offer  thee 
as  a  sacrifice  to  the  shade  of  Synattus.' 

"  Aghast  at  these  words,  and  already  feeling  the  effect  of  the 
poison  stir  pain  within  him,  Sinoris  tried  many  remedies;  but 
they  were  of  no  avail,  and  Camma  had  such  great  good  fortune 
(or  whatever  else  it  was),  that  before  dying  herself  she  knew  that 
Sinoris  was  dead.  Learning  which  thing,  she  very  contentedly 
laid  herself  upon  her  bed  with  eyes  to  heaven,  continually  calling 
the  name  of  Synattus,  and  saying: 

" '  O  sweetest  consort,  now  that  I  have  given  both  tears  and 
vengeance  as  last  offerings  for  thy  death,  nor  see  that  aught  else 
is  left  me  to  do  for  thee,  I  hasten  from  the  world  and  this  life, — 
cruel  without  thee  and  once  dear  to  me  only  for  thy  sake.  Come 
then  to  meet  me,  my  Lord,  and  receive  this  soul  as  gladly  as  it 
gladly  comes  to  thee.' 

"  And  speaking  thus,  and  with  arms  opened  as  if  she  would 
already  embrace  him,  she  died.  Now  say,  Frisio,  what  do  you 
think  ofher?'"* 

Frisio  replied: 

••  I  think  you  fain  would  make  these  ladies  weep.  But  even 
supposing  this  were  true,  I  tell  you  that  such  women  are  no 
longer  to  be  found  in  the  world." 

27 — "Indeed  they  are  to  be  found,"  said  the  Magnifico;  "and 
that  this  is  true,  listen  : 

*'  In  my  time  there  was  a  gentleman  at  Pisa,  whose  name  was 
messer  Tommaso;  I  do  not  remember  of  what  family,  although 
I  often  heard  it  mentioned  by  my  father,  who  was  a  great  friend 
of  his.  Now  this  messer  Tommaso,  crossing  one  day  in  a  small 
vessel  from  Pisa  to  Sicily  on  business,  was  surprised  by  some 
Moorish  galleys  which  had  come  up  so  stealthily  that  those  who 



commanded  the  vessel  did  not  suspect  it;  and  although  the  men 
who  were  in  her  defended  themselves  stoutly,  yet  as  they  were 
few  and  the  enemy  many,  the  vessel  fell  into  the  hands  of  the 
Moors,  together  with  all  who  were  in  her,  both  wounded  and 
whole  as  it  chanced,  and  among  them  messer  Tommaso,  who 
had  carried  himself  bravely  and  slain  with  his  own  hand  a 
brother  of  one  of  the  captains  of  the  galleys.  Wherefore  en- 
raged, as  you  may  believe,  by  the  loss  of  a  brother,  the  captain 
claimed  him  as  special  prisoner,  and  beating  and  maltreating 
him  every  day,  carried  him  to  Barbary,  having  resolved  to  keep 
him  there  in  great  misery  a  captive  for  life  and  with  grievous 

"  All  the  others  got  free  after  a  time,  some  in  one  way  and 
some  in  another,  and  returned  home  and  reported  to  his  wife 
(whose  name  was  madonna  Argentina)  and  to  his  children,  the 
hard  life  and  sore  affliction  in  which  messer  Tommaso  was 
living  and  was  like  to  go  on  living  without  hope  unless  God 
should  aid  him  miraculously.  After  she  and  they  were  informed 
of  this  and  had  tried  several  other  means  to  deliver  him,  and 
when  he  himself  was  quite  resigned  to  die,  it  came  to  pass  that 
watchful  love  so  kindled  the  wit  and  daring  of  one  of  his  sons, 
who  was  called  Paolo,  that  the  youth  took  no  heed  of  any  kind 
of  danger  and  resolved  either  to  die  or  to  free  his  father;  and 
this  thing  was  brought  about  in  such  sort  that  the  father  was 
conveyed  away  so  privily  that  he  was  in  Leghorn  before  it  was 
discovered  in  Barbary  that  he  had  departed  thence.  From  here 
messer  Tommaso  wrote  in  safety  to  his  wife,  and  informed  her 
of  his  deliverance  and  where  he  was  and  how  he  hoped  to  see 
her  the  next  day.  Overwhelmed  with  great  and  unexpected  joy 
at  being  (through  the  dutifulness  and  merit  of  her  son)  so  soon 
to  see  her  husband,  whom  she  so  dearly  loved  and  firmly  believed 
she  would  never  see  again, — the  good  and  gentle  lady  raised  her 
eyes  to  heaven  when  she  had  read  the  letter,  and  calling  her 
husband's  name  fell  dead  upon  the  ground;  nor  in  spite  of  all  the 
remedies  that  were  employed  upon  her  did  the  departed  spirit 
return  again  to  her  body.  Cruel  spectacle,  and  enough  to  mod- 
erate human  wishes  and  restrain  their  over-longing  for  too 
much  joy." 



28.— Then  Frisio  said,  laughing: 

"  How  do  you  know  that  she  did  not  die  of  grief  at  hearing  that 
her  husband  was  coining  home?  " 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Because  the  rest  of  her  life  did  not  comport  with  this;  nay,  I 
think  that  her  soul,  unable  to  brook  delay  in  seeing  him  with  the 
eyes  of  her  body,  forsook  it,  and,  drawn  by  eagerness,  quickly 
flew  whither  her  thought  had  flown  on  reading  the  letter." 

My  lord  Caspar  said: 

*'  It  may  be  that  this  lady  was  too  loving,  for  women  always 
run  to  extremes  in  everything,  which  is  bad;  and  you  see  that  by 
being  too  loving  she  wrought  evil  to  herself,  and  to  her  husband 
and  children,  for  whom  she  turned  to  bitterness  the  joy  of  his 
perilous  and  longed-for  deliverance.  So  you  ought  by  no  means 
to  cite  her  as  one  of  those  women  who  have  been  the  cause  of 
such  great  benefits." 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  I  cite  her  as  one  of  those  who  bear  witness  that  there  are 
wives  who  love  their  husbands;  for  of  those  who  have  been  the 
cause  of  great  benefits  to  the  world,  I  could  tell  you  of  an  endless 
number,  and  discourse  to  you  of  some  so  ancient  that  they  almost 
seem  fabulous,  and  of  those  who  among  men  have  been  the 
inventors  of  such  things,  that  they  deserved  to  be  esteemed  as 
goddesses,  like  Pallas  and  Ceres;  and  of  the  Sibyls,*"  by  whose 
mouth  God  has  so  often  spoken  and  revealed  to  the  world  events 
that  were  to  come;  and  of  those  who  have  instructed  very  great 
men,  like  Aspasia,*"  and  like  Diotima,*"'  who  furthermore  by  her 
sacrifices  delayed  for  ten  years  the  time  of  a  pestilence  that  was 
to  come  upon  Athens.  I  could  tell  you  of  Nicostrate,*"  Evander's 
mother,  who  taught  the  Latins  letters;  and  of  still  another 
woman,**  who  was  preceptress  to  the  lyric  poet  Pindar;**  and  of 
Corinna**  and  of  Sappho,*'  who  were  excellent  in  poetry;  but  I 
do  not  wish  to  seek  out  matters  so  far  afield.  I  tell  you,  however 
(leaving  the  rest  apart),  that  women  were  perhaps  not  less  the 
cause  of  Rome's  greatness  than  men." 

"  This,"  said  my  lord  Caspar,  "  would  be  fine  to  hear." 

29— The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Then  listen  to  it.  After  the  fall  of  Troy  many  Trojans  fled 


who  escaped  that  great  disaster,  some  in  one  direction  and  some 
in  another;  of  whom  one  part,  who  were  buffeted  by  many 
storms,  came  to  Italy  at  that  place  where  the  Tiber  flows  into 
the  sea.  Landing  here  in  search  of  necessaries,  they  began  to 
roam  about  the  country :  the  women,  who  had  remained  in  the 
ships,  bethought  themselves  of  a  good  plan  that  would  put  an 
end  to  their  perilous  and  long  wandering  by  sea  and  give  them 
a  new  fatherland  in  place  of  that  which  they  had  lost;  and  after 
consulting  together  in  the  absence  of  the  men,  they  burned  the 
ships;  and  the  first  to  begin  the  work  bore  the  name  Roma.  Yet 
fearing  the  wrath  of  the  men,  who  were  returning,  they  went 
out  to  meet  these;  and  embracing  and  kissing,  some  their 
husbands,  some  their  kinsmen,  with  tokens  of  affection,  they 
softened  the  first  impulse  of  anger;  then  they  quietly  explained 
to  the  men  the  reason  of  their  wise  device.  Whereupon  the 
Trojans,  either  from  necessity  or  from  having  been  kindly  re- 
ceived by  the  natives,  were  well  pleased  with  what  the  women 
had  done,  and  dwelt  there  with  the  Latins  in  the  place  where 
afterwards  was  Rome;  and  from  this  arose  the  ancient  custom 
among  the  Romans  that  the  women  kissed  their  kinsfolk  when 
they  met.*"  Now  you  see  how  much  these  women  helped  to 
make  a  beginning  of  Rome. 

30.—"  Nor  did  the  Sabine  women  contribute  less  to  its  increase 
than  the  Trojan  women  did  to  its  beginning.  For  Romulus, 
having  excited  general  enmity  among  all  his  neighbours  by  the 
seizure  of  their  women,  was  harassed  by  wars  on  every  side; 
which  (he  being  a  man  of  ability)  were  soon  brought  to  a  suc- 
cessful issue,  except  that  with  the  Sabines,  which  was  very  great 
because  Titus  Tatius,  king  of  the  Sabines,  was  very  powerful  and 
wise.  Wherefore,  a  severe  conflict  having  taken  place  between 
Romans  and  Sabines,  with  very  heavy  loss  on  both  sides,  and  a 
new  and  cruel  battle  making  ready,  the  Sabine  women, — clad  in 
black,  with  hair  loose  and  torn,  weeping,  sorrowful,  fearless  of 
the  weapons  that  were  already  drawn  to  strike, — rushed  in 
between  the  fathers  and  husbands,  imploring  them  to  refrain 
from  defiling  their  hands  with  the  blood  of  fathers-in-law  and 
sons-in-law.  And  if  the  men  were  still  displeased  with  the  alli- 
ance, let  the  weapons  be  turned  against  the  women,  for  it  were 



better  for  them  to  die  than  to  live  widowed  or  fatherless  and 
brotherless,  and  to  remember  that  their  children  were  begotten 
of  those  who  had  slain  their  fathers,  or  that  they  themselves 
were  born  of  those  who  had  slain  their  husbands.  Lamenting 
thus  and  weeping,  many  of  them  carried  their  little  babes  in  their 
arms,""*  some  of  whom  were  already  beginning  to  loose  the 
tongue  and  seemed  to  try  to  call  and  to  make  merry  with  their 
grandsires;  to  whom  the  women  showed  the  little  ones,  and  said, 
weeping:  'Behold  your  blood,  which  with  such  heat  and  fury 
you  are  seeking  to  shed  with  your  own  hands.* 

"  The  women's  dutifulness  and  wisdom  wrought  such  great 
effect  at  this  pass,  that  not  only  were  lasting  friendship  and 
union  established  between  the  two  hostile  kings,  but  what  was 
stranger,  the  Sabines  came  to  live  at  Rome,  and  of  the  two  peo- 
ples a  single  one  was  made.  And  thus  this  union  greatly  in- 
creased the  power  of  Rome,  thanks  to  those  wise  and  lofty- 
minded  women,  who  were  rewarded  by  Romulus  in  such  fashion 
that  in  dividing  the  people  into  thirty  wards  he  gave  thereto  the 
names  of  the  Sabine  women." 

3I-— Here  having  paused  a  little,  and  seeing  that  my  lord  Gas- 
par  did  not  speak,  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  said: 

"  Do  you  not  think  that  these  women  were  the  cause  of  good 
to  their  men-folk  and  contributed  to  the  greatness  of  Rome?" 

My  lord  Caspar  replied: 

"  No  doubt  they  were  worthy  of  much  praise;  but  had  you 
been  as  willing  to  tell  the  sins  of  women  as  their  good  works, 
you  would  not  have  omitted  to  say  that  in  this  war  of  Titus 
Tatius  a  woman  betrayed  Rome  and  showed  the  enemy  the  way 
to  seize  the  Capitol,  whereby  the  Romans  came  near  being  all 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"  You  tell  me  of  a  single  bad  woman,  while  I  tell  you  of  count- 
less good  ones;  and  besides  those  already  mentioned,  I  could 
show  you  a  thousand  other  instances  on  my  side,  of  benefits  done 
to  Rome  by  women,  and  could  tell  you  why  a  temple  was  dedi- 
cated of  old  to  Venus  Armata,"'  and  another  to  Venus  Calva,"" 
and  how  the  Festival  of  the  Handmaidens  was  instituted  in 
honour  of  Juno  because  handmaidens  once  delivered  Rome  from 



the  wiles  of  the  enemy.'"  But  leaving  all  these  things  aside,  did 
not  that  lofty  deed — the  discovery  of  Cataline's  conspiracy, 
whereof  Cicero  so  vaunts  himself — spring  chiefly  from  a  vile 
woman?"* — who  for  this  might  be  said  to  have  been  the  cause 
of  all  the  good  that  Cicero  boasts  of  having  wrought  the  Roman 
commonwealth.  And  had  I  time  enough,  I  should  further  show 
you  that  women  have  often  corrected  many  of  men's  errours; 
but  I  fear  that  this  discourse  of  mine  is  already  too  long  and 
wearisome:  so,  having  performed  according  to  my  ability  the 
task  imposed  upon  me  by  these  ladies,  I  think  it  well  to  give 
place  to  someone  who  will  say  things  worthier  to  be  listened  to 
than  any  I  can  say." 

32 — Then  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"  Do  not  deprive  women  of  those  true  praises  that  are  their 
due;  and  remember  that  if  my  lord  Caspar,  and  perhaps  my  lord 
Ottaviano  as  well,  listen  to  you  with  weariness,  we  and  all  these 
other  gentlemen  listen  to  you  with  pleasure." 

The  Magnifico  still  wished  to  stop,  but  all  the  ladies  began 
begging  him  to  speak:  whereupon  he  said,  laughing: 

"  In  order  not  to  make  my  lord  Caspar  more  my  enemy  than 
he  is,  I  will  tell  briefly  of  a  few  women  who  occur  to  my  mind, 
omitting  many  that  I  might  mention."  Then  he  continued: 
'•  When  Philip,  son  of  Demetrius,  was  laying  siege  to  the  city  of 
Chios,  he  issued  an  edict  promising  freedom  and  their  masters' 
wives  to  all  slaves  who  should  escape  from  the  city  and  come  to 
him.  So  great  was  the  women's  wrath  at  this  shameful  edict 
that  they  rushed  to  the  walls  in  arms,  and  fought  so  fiercely  that 
in  a  short  time  they  drove  Philip  off  with  disgrace  and  loss: 
which  their  husbands  had  not  been  able  to  do.'" 

"  When  these  same  women  came  to  Leuconia  with  their  hus- 
bands, fathers  and  brothers  (who  were  going  into  exile),  they 
performed  a  deed  no  less  glorious  than  this:  the  Erythraeans,''" 
who  were  there  with  their  allies,  waged  war  upon  these  Chiotes, 
who  were  unable  to  resist,  and  so  bound  themselves  to  quit  the 
city  in  tunic  and  shift  only.  Hearing  of  this  shameful  bargain, 
the  women  bewailed  and  upbraided  the  men  for  abandoning 
their  weapons  and  going  forth  almost  naked  among  the  enemy; 
and  the  men   answering    that  they  were   already   bound,  the 



'    -^  ■    ^#'f>^:«J^^^^? 

Died  1528 

Enlarged  from  a  photograph,  specially  made  by  Mansell,  of  a  cast,  kindly  fur- 
nished by  T.  Whitcombe  Greene,  Esq.,  of  a  medal  in  his  collection  at  Chandler's 
Ford,  Hampshire,  possibly  the  work  of  Giancristoforo  Romano  (i465?-i5n).  See 
Armand's  Les  MidaiUeurs  Itatiens,  iii,  aoa. 

.1   ttltaU  ,f- 


women  told  them  to  wear  their  shields  and  spears  and  leave 
their  clothes  behind,  and  to  tell  the  enemy  that  this  was  their 
attire.  And  thus,  acting  upon  the  advice  of  their  women,  they  in 
great  part  atoned  for  the  shame  that  they  could  not  wholly 

"  Again,  Cyrus  having  routed  an  army  of  Persians  in  battle,  in 
fleeing  to  their  city  they  met  their  women  outside  the  gate,  who, 
stopping  in  the  way,  said:  'Whither  do  ye  flee,  base  men? 
Would  ye  perchance  hide  yourselves  in  us,  from  whence  ye 
came?'  On  hearing  these  and  other  like  words,  and  being  sen- 
sible how  inferior  they  were  in  courage  to  their  women,  the  men 
were  ashamed,  and  returning  against  the  enemy,  fought  with  him 
anew  and  routed  him."'" 

33. — Having  thus  far  spoken,  the  Magnifico  stopped,  and  turning 
to  my  lady  Duchess,  said: 

"  Now,  my  Lady,  you  will  give  me  leave  to  be  silent." 

My  lord  Caspar  replied: 

"  You  will  forsooth  have  to  be  silent,  for  you  do  not  know 
what  more  to  say." 

The  Magnifico  said,  laughing: 

"  You  provoke  me  so,  that  you  run  risk  of  having  to  listen  to 
women's  praises  all  night;  and  to  hear  of  many  Spartan  women 
who  rejoiced  in  the  glorious  death  of  their  children ;''"  and  of 
those  who  disowned  or  even  slew  theirs  when  seen  to  behave 
basely.  Then  how  in  the  ruin  of  their  country  the  Saguntine 
women  took  up  arms  against  the  forces  of  Hannibal;'™  and  how, 
when  Marius  overcame  the  army  of  the  Germans,  the  women, 
being  unable  to  get  leave  to  live  free  at  Rome  in  the  service  of 
the  Vestal  Virgins,  all  killed  themselves  and  their  little  chil- 
dren;'"' and  of  a  thousand  others  whereof  all  the  ancient  histories 
are  full." 

Then  my  lord  Caspar  said: 

"Ah,  my  lord  Magnifico,  but  God  knows  how  those  things 
happened;  for  that  age  is  so  remote  from  us  that  many  lies  can 
be  told  and  there  is  none  to  refute  them." 

34-— The  Magnifico  said: 

"If  in  every  age  you  will  compare  women's  worth  with  that  of 
men,  you  will  find  that  they  have  never  been  and  are  not  now  at 



all  inferior  to  men  in  worth;  for  leaving  aside  the  times  that  are 
so  ancient,  if  you  come  to  the  time  when  the  Goths  ruled  in  Italy, 
you  will  find  that  there  was  a  queen  among  them,  Amala- 
sontha,"'  who  long  reigned  with  admirable  wisdom;  then  Theo- 
dolinda,*^  queen  of  the  Lombards,  of  singular  worth;  Theo- 
dora,"*"  the  Greek  empress;  and  in  Italy  among  many  others  the 
Countess  Matilda  was  a  most  illustrious  lady,  of  whose  praises  I 
will  leave  Count  Ludovico  to  speak,  since  she  was  of  his  family.'"^ 

"  Nay,"  said  the  Count,  "  that  rests  with  you,  for  you  know  it 
does  not  become  a  man  to  praise  what  is  his  own." 

The  Magnifico  continued: 

"And  how  many  women  in  times  past  do  you  find  belonging  to 
this  most  noble  house  of  Montefeltro!**"  How  many  of  the  house 
of  Gonzaga,  of  Este,  of  Pio!"*  Then,  if  we  wish  to  speak  of  the 
present  times,  we  shall  have  no  need  to  seek  very  far  for  in- 
stances, because  we  have  them  at  home.  But  I  shall  not  avail 
myself  of  those  we  see  before  us,  lest  you  pretend  to  grant  me 
out  of  courtesy  that  which  you  can  in  no  wise  deny.  And  to  go 
outside  of  Italy,  remember  that  we  in  our  day  have  seen  Queen 
Anne  of  France,'*'  a  very  great  lady  not  less  in  worth  than  in 
state;  and  if  you  will  compare  her  in  justice  and  clemency,  liber- 
ality and  pureness  of  life,  with  Kings  Charles*^  and  Louis"  (to 
both  of  whom  she  was  consort),  you  will  not  find  her  at  all  their 
inferior.  You  see  madonna  Margarita  '^  (daughter  of  the  Em- 
peror Maximilian)™  who  has  until  now  governed  and  still  governs 
her  state  with  the  utmost  wisdom  and  justice. 

35-—"  But  laying  all  others  aside,  tell  me,  my  lord  Gaspar,  what 
king  or  what  prince  has  there  been  in  our  days,  or  even  for  many 
years  past  in  Christendom,  who  deserves  to  be  compared  with 
Queen  Isabella  of  Spain?"*" 

My  lord  Gaspar  replied: 

"  King  Ferdinand,  her  husband."'^ 

The  Magnifico  continued: 

"  That  I  shall  not  deny;  for  since  the  queen  judged  him  worthy 
to  be  her  husband,  and  so  loved  and  honoured  him,  we  cannot 
say  that  he  did  not  deserve  to  be  compared  with  her:  yet  I 
believe  that  the  fame  he  had  by  her  was  a  dowry  not  inferior  to 
the  kingdom  of  Castile." 



"  Nay,"  replied  my  lord  Caspar,  "  I  think  that  Queen  Isabella 
had  credit  for  many  of  King  Ferdinand's  deeds." 

Then  the  Magnifico  said: 

"  Unless  the  people  of  Spain, — lords,  commons,  men  and 
women,  poor  and  rich, — have  all  agreed  to  lie  in  praise  of  her, 
there  has  not  been  in  our  time  on  earth  a  brighter  example  of 
true  goodness,  of  lofty  spirit,  of  wisdom,  of  piety,  of  purity,  of 
courtesy,  of  liberality, —  in  short,  of  every  virtue, — than  Queen 
Isabella;  and  although  the  fame  of  that  illustrious  lady  is  very 
great  in  every  place  and  among  every  nation,  those  who  lived  in 
her  company  and  were  witness  to  her  actions,  do  all  affirm  that 
this  fame  sprang  from  her  virtue  and  merits.  And  whoever  will 
consider  her  deeds  will  easily  perceive  such  to  be  the  truth.  For 
leaving  aside  countless  things  that  give  proof  of  this  and  could 
be  told  if  it  were  our  theme,  everyone  knows  that  when  she  came 
to  reign  she  found  the  greater  part  of  Castile  usurped  by  the 
grandees;  yet  she  recovered  the  whole  so  righteously  and  in 
such  fashion  that  the  very  men  who  were  deprived  of  it,  re- 
mained very  devoted  to  her  and  content  to  give  up  that  which 
they  possessed. 

"A  very  noted  thing  also  is  with  what  courage  and  wisdom 
she  always  defended  her  realms  against  very  powerful  enemies; 
and  likewise  to  her  alone  can  be  given  the  honour  of  the  glorious 
conquest  of  the  kingdom  of  Granada;  for  in  this  long  and  diffi- 
cult war  against  obstinate  enemies, — who  were  fighting  for  prop- 
erty, for  life,  for  religion,  and  (to  their  thinking)  for  God, — she 
always  showed,  both  in  her  counsel  and  in  her  very  person,  such 
virtue  that  perhaps  few  princes  in  our  time  have  had  the  hardi- 
hood, I  will  not  say  to  imitate,  but  even  to  envy  her. 

"  Besides  this,  all  who  knew  her  affirm  that  she  had  such  a 
divine  manner  of  ruling  that  her  mere  wish  seemed  enough  to 
make  every  man  do  quietly  that  which  he  ought  to  do ;  so  that  men 
hardly  dared  in  their  own  houses  and  secretly  to  do  anything  they 
thought  would  displease  her:  and  in  great  part  the  cause  of  this 
was  the  admirable  judgment  she  had  in  discerning  and  choosing 
right  agents  for  the  duties  she  meant  to  employ  them  in;  and  so 
well  did  she  know  how  to  unite  the  rigour  of  justice  with  the 
gentleness  of  mercy  and  liberality,  that  in  her  day  there  was  no 


good  man  who  complained  of  being  ill  rewarded,  nor  any  bad 
man  of  being  too  severely  punished.  Thus  there  sprang  up 
among  the  people  an  exceeding  great  reverence  for  her,  com- 
posed of  love  and  fear,  which  still  remains  so  implanted  in  the 
minds  of  all,  that  they  almost  seem  to  think  that  she  looks  down 
upon  them  from  heaven  and  must  bestow  praise  or  blame  upon 
them  from  above;  and  thus  those  realms  are  still  governed  by 
her  name  and  the  methods  she  ordained,  so  that  although  her 
life  is  at  an  end,  her  authority  lives, —  like  a  wheel  which,  long 
revolved  with  force,  still  turns  of  itself  for  a  good  space,  although 
nothing  more  impels  it. 

"  Consider  also,  my  lord  Caspar,  that  in  our  times  nearly  all 
the  men  in  Spain  who  are  great  or  famous  for  anything  what- 
ever, were  made  so  by  Queen  Isabella;  and  Consalvo  Ferdi- 
nando,  the  Great  Captain,  was  far  prouder  of  this  than  of  all  his 
famous  victories,  and  of  those  eminent  and  worthy  deeds  which 
have  made  him  so  bright  and  illustrious  in  peace  and  war,  that 
if  fame  is  not  very  thankless,  she  will  always  herald  his  immor- 
tal praises  to  the  world,  and  give  proof  that  we  have  in  our  age 
had  few  kings  or  great  princes  who  have  not  been  surpassed  by 
him  in  magnanimity,  wisdom,  and  in  every  virtue. 

36 "  Returning  now  to  Italy,  I  say  that  here  too  there  is  no 

lack  of  very  admirable  ladies;  for  in  Naples  we  have  two  re- 
markable queens;'"'  and  a  short  time  since  there  died  at  Naples 
also  the  other  queen  of  Hungary,'"  you  know  how  admirable  a 
lady,  and  worthy  to  be  the  peer  of  the  unconquerable  and 
glorious  king,  Matthias  Corvinus,  her  husband.'""  Likewise  the 
Duchess  Isabella  of  Aragon,  worthy  sister  to  King  Ferdinand  of 
Naples;  who  (like  gold  in  the  fire)  showed  her  virtue  and  worth 
amid  the  storms  of  fortune.'* 

"  If  you  come  to  Lombardy,  you  will  find  my  lady  Isabella, 
Marchioness  of  Mantua;""  to  whose  very  admirable  virtues  in- 
justice would  be  done  in  speaking  as  soberly  as  in  this  place 
anyone  must  needs  do  who  would  speak  of  her  at  all.  I  regret, 
too,  that  you  did  not  all  know  her  sister  the  Duchess  Beatrice  of 
Milan,  in  order  that  you  might  never  more  have  need  to  marvel 
at  woman's  capacity."'  And  Eleanora  of  Aragon,  Duchess  of 
Ferrara  and  mother  of  both  these  two  ladies  whom  I  have  men- 



tioned,  was  of  such  sort  that  her  very  admirable  virtues  bore 
good  witness  to  all  the  world  that  she  not  only  was  a  worthy 
daughter  of  a  king,  but  deserved  to  be  queen  over  a  much 
greater  realm  than  all  her  ancestors  had  possessed.**  And  to 
tell  you  of  another,  how  many  men  do  you  know  in  the  world 
who  have  borne  the  cruel  blows  of  fortune  as  patiently  as  Queen 
Isabella  of  Naples  has  done?™ — who,  after  the  loss  of  her  king- 
dom, the  exile  and  death  of  her  husband  King  Federico'"'  and  of 
two  children,  and  the  captivity  of  her  first-born,  the  Duke  of 
Calabria,™  still  shows  herself  to  be  a  queen,  and  so  endures  the 
grievous  burdens  of  bitter  poverty  as  to  give  all  men  proof  that 
although  her  fortunes  are  changed,  her  rank  is  not, 

"  I  refrain  from  mentioning  countless  other  ladies,  and  also 
women  of  low  degree;  like  many  Pisan  women,  who  in  defence 
of  their  city  against  the  Florentines  displayed  that  generous 
daring,  without  any  fear  of  death,  which  might  have  been  dis- 
played by  the  most  unconquerable  souls  that  have  ever  been  on 
earth;  wherefore  some  of  them  have  been  celebrated  by  many 
noble  poets/™ 

*'  I  could  tell  you  of  some  who  were  very  excellent  in  letters, 
in  music,  in  painting,  in  sculpture;  but  I  do  not  wish  to  go  on 
selecting  from  among  these  instances  that  are  perfectly  well 
known  to  you  all.  It  is  enough  that  if  you  reflect  upon  the 
women  whom  you  yourselves  know,  it  is  not  difficult  for  you  to 
perceive  that  they  are  for  the  most  part  not  inferior  in  worth  and 
merits  to  their  fathers,  brothers  and  husbands;  and  that  not  a  few 
have  been  the  source  of  good  to  men  and  often  have  corrected 
many  a  one  of  his  errours;  and  if  there  are  not  now  to  be  found 
on  earth  those  great  queens  who  march  to  the  conquest  of  dis- 
tant lands,  and  erect  great  buildings,  pyramids  and  cities, —  like 
that  famous  Tomyris,  Queen  of  Scythia,  Artemisia,  Zenobia, 
Semiramis  or  Cleopatra,™ — neither  are  there  men  like  Caesar, 
Alexander,  Scipio,  Lucullus  and  those  other  Roman  com- 

37 — "  Say  not  so,"  replied   Frisio,  laughing ;   "  for  now  more 
than  ever  are  there  women  to  be  found  like  Cleopatra  or  Semir- 
amis; and  if  they  have  not  such  great  states,  power  and  riches, 
yet  they  lack  not  the  good  will  to  imitate  those  queens  in  giving 


themselves  pleasure,  and  in  satisfying  as  far  as  they  can  all  their 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  said: 

"  You  always  wish  to  go  beyond  bounds,  Frisio ;  but  if  there 
are  some  Cleopatras  to  be  found,  there  is  no  lack  of  countless 
Sardanapaluses,  which  is  far  worse.""" 

Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  Do  not  draw  these  comparisons,  or  imagine  that  men  are 
more  incontinent  than  women;  and  even  if  they  were  so,  it 
would  not  be  worse,  for  from  women's  incontinence  countless 
evils  result  that  do  not  from  men's.  Therefore,  as  was  said  yes- 
terday, it  is  wisely  ordained  that  women  are  allowed  to  fail  in 
all  other  things  without  blame,  to  the  end  that  they  may  be  able 
to  devote  all  their  strength  to  keeping  themselves  in  this  one 
virtue  of  chastity;  without  which  their  children  would  be  uncer- 
tain, and  that  tie  would  be  dissolved  which  binds  the  whole 
world  by  blood  and  by  the  natural  love  of  each  man  for  what 
he  has  produced.  Hence  loose  living  is  more  forbidden  to 
women  than  to  men,  who  do  not  carry  their  children  for  nine 
months  within  them." 

38.— Then  the  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Verily  these  are  fine  arguments  which  you  cite,  and  I  do  not 
see  why  you  do  not  commit  them  to  writing. 

"  But  tell  me  why  it  is  not  ordained  that  loose  living  is  as 
disgraceful  a  thing  in  men  as  in  women,  seeing  that  if  men  are  by 
nature  more  virtuous  and  of  greater  worth,  they  could  all  the 
more  easily  practise  this  virtue  of  continence  also;  and  their 
children  would  be  neither  more  nor  less  certain,  for  although 
women  were  unchaste,  they  could  of  themselves  merely  and 
without  other  aid  in  no  wise  bear  children,  provided  men  were 
continent  and  did  not  take  part  in  women's  unchastity.  But  if 
you  will  say  the  truth,  even  you  know  that  we  men  have  of  our 
own  authority  arrogated  to  ourselves  a  licence,  whereby  we 
insist  that  the  same  sins  are  in  us  very  trivial  and  sometimes 
praiseworthy,  and  in  women  cannot  be  sufficiently  punished, 
unless  by  shameful  death  or  perpetual  infamy  at  least. 

"  Wherefore,  since  this  opinion  is  prevalent,  methinks  it  were 
a  fitting  thing  to  punish  severely  those  also  who  with  lies  cast 



infamy  on  women;  and  I  think  that  every  noble  cavalier  is 
bound  always  to  defend  the  truth  with  arms  where  there  is  need, 
and  especially  when  he  knows  some  woman  to  be  falsely  ac- 
cused of  little  chastity." 

39—"  And  I,"  replied  my  lord  Caspar,  laughing,  "  not  only 
affirm  that  which  you  say  is  the  duty  of  every  noble  cavalier,  but 
I  think  that  it  is  an  act  of  great  courtesy  and  gentleness  to  con- 
ceal the  fault  a  woman  may  have  committed  through  mischance 
or  over-love;  and  thus  you  may  see  that  I  am  more  on  the  side 
of  women,  where  reason  permits  it,  than  you  are. 

"I  do  not,  indeed,  deny  that  men  have  taken  a  little  liberty; 
and  this  because  they  know  that  according  to  universal  opinion 
loose  living  does  not  bring  them  the  infamy  that  it  does  to 
women;  who  by  reason  of  the  frailty  of  their  sex  are  much 
more  inclined  towards  their  appetites  than  men  are;  and  if  they 
sometimes  refrain  from  satisfying  their  desires,  they  do  so  from 
shame  and  not  because  their  will  is  not  quite  ready.  Therefore 
men  have  put  the  fear  of  infamy  upon  them  as  a  bridle  to  keep 
them  almost  by  force  to  this  virtue,  without  which  they  were  in 
truth  little  to  be  prized;  for  the  world  has  no  good  from  women 
except  the  bearing  of  children. 

"  But  this  is  not  the  case  with  men,  who  rule  cities  and  armies, 
and  do  so  many  other  things  of  importance.  Since  you  will 
have  it  so,  I  do  not  care  to  deny  that  women  can  do  these  things; 
it  is  enough  that  they  do  not.  And  when  men  have  seen  fit  to 
set  a  pattern  of  continence,  they  have  excelled  women  in  this 
virtue  as  well  as  in  the  others  also,  although  you  do  not  admit  it. 
And  as  to  this  I  will  not  rehearse  so  many  histories  and  fables 
as  you  have  done,  but  merely  refer  you  to  the  continence  of  two 
very  great  young  lords,  and  to  their  victory,  which  is  wont  to 
make  even  men  of  lowest  rank  insolent.  One  is  that  of  Alexan- 
der the  Great  towards  the  very  beautiful  women  of  Darius, — an 
enemy,  and  a  vanquished  one  at  that;"*  the  other,  of  Scipio, 
who  having  at  the  age  of  twenty-four  years  taken  a  city  in 
Spain  by  force,  there  was  brought  before  him  a  very  beautiful 
and  noble  young  woman,  captured  along  with  many  others;  and 
hearing  that  she  was  the  bride  of  a  gentleman  of  the  country, 
Scipio  not  only  abstained  from  any  wanton  act  towards  her,  but 


restored  her  unspotted  to  her  husband,  bestowing   a  rich  gift 
upon  her  besides."' 

"  I  could  tell  you  of  Xenocrates/""  who  was  so  continent  that  a 
very  beautiful  woman  having  laid  herself  down  unclothed  beside 
him,  and  employing  all  the  caresses  and  using  all  the  arts  that 
she  knew,  whereof  she  was  an  admirable  mistress,  she  had  not 
the  power  to  make  him  show  the  slightest  sign  of  impudicity, 
although  she  tried  one  whole  night  long;  and  of  Pericles,  who 
on  merely  hearing  someone  praise  a  boy's  beauty  with  over- 
warmth,  reproved  him  sharply;™  and  of  many  others  who  have 
been  very  continent  of  their  own  choice,  and  not  from  shame  or 
fear  of  punishment,  which  move  most  women  who  practise  this 
virtue:  who  for  all  that  deserve  to  be  highly  praised,  and  he 
who  falsely  casts  the  infamy  of  unchasteness  upon  them  is 
worthy  of  the  heaviest  punishment,  as  you  have  said." 

40,— Then  messer  Cesare,  who  had  been  silent  a  long  while, 

"  Think  in  what  fashion  my  lord  Caspar  is  wont  to  speak  in 
blame  of  woman,  if  these  are  the  things  that  he  says  in  their 
praise.  But  if  my  lord  Magnifico  will  let  me  say  a  few  things  in 
his  stead  by  way  of  reply  to  such  matters  as  my  lord  Caspar  has, 
to  my  thinking,  said  falsely  against  women,  it  were  well  for  both 
of  us;  as  he  will  rest  awhile  and  then  be  better  able  to  go  on  to 
declare  some  other  excellence  of  the  Court  Lady,  and  I  shall 
hold  myself  much  favoured  at  having  an  opportunity  to  share 
with  him  this  duty  of  a  good  cavalier — that  is,  to  defend  the 

"Nay,  I  pray  you  do  so,"  replied  my  lord  Magnifico;  "for 
methinks  I  have  already  fulfilled  my  duty  to  the  extent  of  my 
powers,  and  this  discussion  is  now  outside  my  subject." 

Messer  Cesare  continued: 

"  I  am  far  from  wishing  to  speak  of  the  good  that  women  do 
in  the  world  besides  the  bearing  of  children,  for  it  has  been  suf- 
ficiently shown  how  necessary  they  are  not  only  to  our  being, 
but  to  our  well-being;  but  I  say,  my  lord  Gaspar,  that  if  they  are 
as  you  say  more  inclined  to  their  appetites  than  men,  and  if  for 
all  that  they  abstain  therefrom  more  than  men,  which  you 
admit, — they  are  as  much  worthier  of  praise  as  their  sex  is  less 



strong  to  resist  their  natural  appetites.  And  if  you  say  they  do  it 
from  shame,  methinks  that  in  place  of  a  single  virtue  you  give 
them  two;  for  if  shame  is  stronger  in  them  than  appetite  and 
they  for  that  reason  abstain  from  evil  acts,  I  think  that  this 
shame  (which  in  short  is  nothing  else  but  fear  of  infamy)  is  a 
very  rare  virtue  and  one  possessed  by  very  few  men.  And  if  I 
could,  without  infinite  disgrace  to  men,  tell  how  many  of  them  are 
plunged  in  shamelessness  (which  is  the  vice  opposed  to  this 
virtue),  I  should  pollute  these  chaste  ears  that  hear  me.  These 
offenders  against  God  and  nature  are  for  the  most  part  men 
already  old,  who  make  a  calling,  some  of  the  priesthood,  some 
of  philosophy,  some  of  sacred  law;  and  govern  public  affairs 
with  a  Catonian  severity  of  countenance  that  gives  promise  of 
all  the  integrity  in  the  world;  and  always  allege  the  feminine 
sex  to  be  very  incontinent;  nor  do  they  ever  lament  anything 
more  than  their  loss  of  natural  vigor,  which  renders  them  unable 
to  satisfy  the  abominable  desires  that  still  linger  in  their  thoughts 
after  being  denied  by  nature  to  their  bodies;  and  hence  they 
often  find  ways  wherein  strength  is  not  necessary. 

41.—"  But  I  do  not  wish  to  say  more;  and  it  is  enough  for  me 
that  you  grant  me  that  women  abstain  from  unchaste  living 
more  than  men;  and  certain  it  is  that  they  are  restrained  by  no 
other  bridle  than  that  which  they  themselves  put  on.  That  this 
is  true,  the  greater  part  of  those  who  are  confined  with  too  close 
care,  or  beaten  by  their  husbands  or  fathers,  are  less  chaste  than 
those  who  have  some  liberty. 

"  But  a  great  bridle  to  women  generally  is  their  love  of  true 
virtue  and  their  desire  for  honour,  whereof  many  whom  I  have 
known  in  my  time  make  more  account  than  of  their  very  life; 
and  if  you  will  say  the  truth,  every  one  of  us  has  seen  very  noble 
youths,  discreet,  wise,  valiant  and  beautiful,  spend  many  years 
in  love,  without  omitting  aught  of  care,  of  gifts,  of  prayers,  of 
tears,  in  short,  of  anything  that  can  be  imagined;  and  all  in  vain. 
And  but  that  I  might  be  told  that  my  qualities  have  never  made 
me.  worthy  of  ever  being  loved,  I  should  call  myself  as  witness, 
who  have  more  than  once  been  nigh  to  death  because  of  a 
woman's  unchangeable  and  too  stern  chastity." 

My  lord  Gaspar  replied: 


"  Marvel  not  at  that:  for  women  who  are  always  wooed  refuse 
to  please  him  who  wooes  them;  and  they  who  are  not  wooed, 
woo  others."*'" 

42.— Messer  Cesare  said: 

"I  have  never  known  these  men  who  are  wooed  by  women; 
but  very  many  who,  on  finding  that  they  have  tried  in  vain  and 
spent  time  foolishly,  resort  to  this  noble  revenge,  and  say  they 
have  had  an  abundance  of  that  which  they  have  only  imagined, 
and  think  it  a  kind  of  courtiership  to  speak  evil  and  invent  tales 
to  the  end  that  slanderous  stories  of  some  noble  lady  may  spring 
up  among  the  rabble.  But  such  as  these,  who  make  vile  boast 
(whether  true  or  false)  of  conquering  a  gentle  lady,  deserve  pun- 
ishment or  torture  most  severe;  and  if  they  sometimes  meet  it, 
we  cannot  measure  the  praise  due  to  those  who  perform  the 
office.  For  if  they  are  telling  lies,  what  villainy  can  be  greater 
than  to  steal  from  a  worthy  lady  that  which  she  values  more 
than  life?  And  for  no  other  reason  than  that  which  ought  to 
win  endless  praise  for  her?  Again,  if  they  are  telling  the  truth, 
what  punishment  could  suffice  for  a  man  who  is  so  vile  as  to 
reward  with  such  ingratitude  a  woman,  who, — vanquished  by 
false  flatteries,  by  feigned  tears,  by  continual  wooing,  by  laments, 
by  arts,  tricks  and  perjuries, — has  suffered  herself  to  be  led  into 
too  great  love,  and  then  without  reserve  has  fondly  given  herself 
a  prey  to  such  a  malign  spirit? 

"  But  to  answer  you  further  touching  that  unheard-of  conti- 
nence of  Alexander  and  Scipio  which  you  have  cited,  I  say  I  am 
unwilling  to  deny  that  both  performed  an  act  worthy  of  much 
praise;  yet  to  the  end  that  you  may  not  be  able  to  say  that  in 
rehearsing  ancient  matters  I  tell  you  fables,  I  wish  to  cite  a 
woman  of  low  degree  in  our  own  times,  who  showed  far  more 
continence  than  these  two  great  men. 

43 — "  I  say,  then,  that  I  once  knew  a  beautiful  and  gentle  girl, 
whose  name  I  do  not  tell  you  lest  you  give  food  for  slander  to 
many  fools,  who  conceive  a  bad  opinion  of  a  w^oman  as  soon  as 
they  hear  of  her  being  in  love.  W^ell,  this  girl  having  been  long 
loved  by  a  noble  and  well-conditioned  youth,  began  to  love  him 
with  all  her  mind  and  heart;  and  of  this  not  only  I  (to  whom 
she  voluntarily  confided  everything  as  if  I  had  been,  I  will  not 



say  her  brother,  but  her  dearest  sister),  but  all  those  who  saw 
her  in  the  presence  of  the  beloved  youth,  were  very  certain  of 
her  passion.  Loving  thus  as  fervently  as  a  very  loving  soul  can 
love,  she  maintained  such  continence  for  two  years  that  she 
never  gave  this  youth  any  token  of  loving  him,  except  such  as 
she  could  not  hide;  neither  would  she  ever  speak  to  him  or 
receive  letters  from  him  or  gifts,  although  a  day  never  passed 
but  she  was  besought  to  do  both.  And  I  well  know  how  she 
longed  for  it,  because  if  she  was  sometimes  able  to  possess  any- 
thing secretly  that  had  been  the  youth's,  she  held  it  so  dear  that 
it  seemed  to  be  the  source  of  her  life  and  all  her  weal;  and 
never  in  all  that  time  would  she  grant  him  other  pleasure  than 
to  see  him  and  let  herself  be  seen,  and  to  dance  with  him  as  with 
the  others  when  she  took  part  in  public  festivals. 

"  And  since  they  were  well  suited  to  each  other  in  condition, 
the  girl  and  the  youth  desired  that  their  great  love  might  end 
happily,  and  that  they  might  be  man  and  wife  together.  The 
same  was  desired  by  all  the  other  men  and  women  of  their  city, 
except  her  cruel  father,  who  out  of  perverse  and  strange  caprice 
wished  to  marry  her  to  another  and  richer  man;  and  to  this  the 
unhappy  girl  opposed  naught  but  very  bitter  tears.  And  the 
ill-starred  marriage  having  been  concluded,  with  much  pity  from 
the  people  and  to  the  despair  of  the  poor  lovers,  even  this  blow 
of  fortune  did  not  avail  to  destroy  the  love  so  deeply  rooted  in 
their  hearts;  which  still  endured  for  the  space  of  three  years, 
although  she  very  prudently  concealed  it  and  sought  in  every 
way  to  stifle  those  desires  that  now  were  hopeless.  And  all  this 
time  she  kept  her  stern  resolve  of  continence;  and  as  she  could 
not  honourably  possess  him  whom  alone  in  the  world  she 
adored,  she  chose  not  to  wish  for  him  in  any  wise,  and  to  follow 
her  custom  of  accepting  neither  messages  nor  gifts  nor  even 
glances  from  him;  and  in  this  fixed  resolve,  the  poor  girl,  over- 
come by  sharpest  anguish  and  grown  very  wasted  from  long 
passion,  died  at  the  end  of  three  years,  preferring  to  renounce 
the  joys  and  pleasures  so  eagerly  desired,  and  at  last  her  very 
life,  rather  than  her  honour.  Nor  was  she  without  ways  and 
means  of  satisfying  herself  quite  secretly  and  without  risk  of 
disgrace  or  any  other  harm;   and  yet  she  abstained  from  that 



which  she  herself  so  greatly  desired  and  towards  which  she  was 
so  urged  continually  by  the  person  whom  alone  in  the  world  she 
desired  to  please:  nor  was  she  moved  therein  by  fear  or  any 
other  motive  than  mere  love  of  true  virtue. 

"  What  will  you  say  of  another,  who  for  six  months  spent 
nearly  every  night  with  a  dearly  cherished  lover;  yet,  in  a  gar- 
den full  of  sweetest  fruits,  invited  by  her  own  most  ardent  long- 
ing and  by  the  prayers  and  tears  of  one  dearer  to  her  than  life 
itself,  she  refrained  from  tasting  them;  and  although  she  was 
caught  and  held  in  the  fast  bonds  of  those  beloved  arms,  she 
never  yielded  herself  vanquished,  but  preserved  the  flower  of 
her  chastity  immaculate. 

44-—"  Do  you  think,  my  lord  Gaspar,  that  these  acts  of  conti- 
nence are  equal  to  Alexander's? — who  (being  most  ardently 
enamoured,  not  of  Darius's  women,  but  of  that  fame  and  great- 
ness which  incited  him  by  thirst  for  glory  to  endure  toils  and 
dangers  to  make  himself  immortal)  spurned  not  only  other 
things,  but  his  own  life,  in  order  to  win  renown  above  all  other 
men.  And  do  we  marvel  that  with  such  thoughts  at  heart  he 
abstained  from  something  he  did  not  much  desire?  For  since 
he  had  never  seen  the  women  before,  he  could  not  possibly  love 
them  in  a  moment,  but  perhaps  even  loathed  them  because  of  his 
enemy  Darius;  and  in  that  case  every  wanton  act  of  his  towards 
them  would  have  been  outrage  and  not  love.  Hence  it  is  no 
great  thing  that  Alexander,  who  conquered  the  world  no  less  by 
magnanimity  than  by  arms,  abstained  from  doing  outrage  to 

"  Scipio's  continence  also  is  much  to  be  praised.  Yet  if  you 
consider  rightly,  it  is  not  to  be  compared  with  these  two  women's; 
for  he  too  likewise  abstained  from  something  not  desired; — being 
in  a  hostile  country,  newly  in  command,  at  the  beginning  of  a 
very  important  enterprise;  having  left  great  expectations  of  him- 
self at  home,  and  bound  to  render  an  account  to  very  strict 
judges,  who  often  punished  very  small  mistakes  as  well  as  great, 
and  among  whom  he  knew  he  had  enemies;  conscious  also  that 
if  he  acted  otherwise  (the  lady  being  very  noble  and  married  to 
a  very  noble  lord),  he  might  arouse  so  many  enemies  and  in  such 
fashion  that  they  might  long  hinder  and  perhaps  quite  snatch 



away  his  success.  Hence,  for  reasons  thus  many  and  important, 
he  abstained  from  a  light  and  harmful  wish,  displaying  con- 
tinence and  generous  uprightness;  which,  as  it  is  written,  gave 
him  the  entire  good  will  of  those  nations,  and  was  worth  another 
army  to  him,  wherewith  by  gentleness  to  conquer  hearts  that 
perhaps  would  have  been  unconquerable  by  force  of  arms.'" 

•  ••••••• 

"  Forgive  me,  my  lord  Gaspar,  if  I  say  the  truth,  for  in  short 
these  are  the  miraculous  continences  that  men  write  about  them- 
selves while  accusing  women  of  incontinence,  in  whom  we  every 
day  see  countless  tokens  of  continence;  for  in  truth,  if  you  con- 
sider well,  there  is  no  fortress  so  impregnable  and  well  defended 
that,  if  it  were  assailed  with  a  thousandth  part  of  the  wiles  and 
tricks  that  are  employed  to  overcome  the  steadfast  heart  of 
woman,  it  would  not  surrender  at  the  first  assault. 

"  How  many  creatures  of  great  lords, —  enriched  by  them  and 
placed  in  very  high  esteem,  entrusted  with  their  castles  and 
fortresses,  whereon  depend  their  whole  state,  life  and  weal, — 
have  basely  and  sordidly  surrendered  these  to  such  as  had  no 
right  thereto,  without  shame  or  fear  of  being  called  traitors? 
And  would  to  God  there  were  so  great  a  dearth  of  such  men  in 
our  days,  that  we  might  have  no  more  trouble  to  find  a  man  who 
had  done  his  duty  in  this  regard,  than  to  name  those  who  have 
failed  in  theirs.  Do  we  not  see  many  others  who  daily  go  about 
slaying  men  in  the  forest  and  scouring  the  sea  solely  to  steal 

"  How  many  prelates  sell  the  property  of  God's  church!  How 
many  lawyers  forge  wills!  How  many  perjurers  bear  false 
witness  only  to  get  money!  How  many  physicians  poison  the 
sick  to  the  same  end!  Again,  how  many  do  the  vilest  things 
from  fear  of  death!  And  yet  a  tender  and  delicate  girl  often 
resists  all  these  sharp  and  hard  encounters;  for  many  have  been 
found  who  preferred  death  rather  than  lose  their  chastity." 

47-— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  These,  messer  Cesare,  I  believe  are  not  on  earth  to-day," 

Messer  Cesare  replied: 

"  I  will  not  cite  the  ancients  now;  but  I  tell  you  this,  that  many 
would  be  and  are  to  be  found,  who  in  such  case  do  not  fear  to 


die.  And  now  I  remember  that  when  Capua  was  sacked  by  the 
French  (which  was  not  so  long  ago  that  you  cannot  recall  it 
very  well),*"  a  beautiful  young  Capuan  lady  being  led  out  of  her 
house,  where  she  had  been  captured  by  a  company  of  Gascons, 
when  she  reached  the  river  that  flows  through  Capua,*"  she  pre- 
tended that  she  wished  to  tie  her  shoe,  so  that  he  who  was  lead- 
ing her  let  her  go  a  little,  and  she  suddenly  threw  herself  into 
the  river. 

"  What  will  you  say  of  a  peasant  girl,  who  not  many  months 
ago,  at  Gazuolo  in  the  Mantuan  territory/"  went  with  her  sister 
to  reap  corn  in  the  fields,  and  being  overcome  with  thirst,  entered 
a  house  for  a  drink  of  water;  and  the  master  of  the  house,  who 
was  a  young  man,  seeing  that  she  was  very  beautiful  and  alone, 
took  her  in  his  arms,  and  first  with  soft  words,  and  then  with 
threats,  sought  to  persuade  her  to  his  wishes;  and  she  resisting 
more  and  more  stubbornly,  he  at  last  overcame  her  with  many 
blows  and  with  force.  So,  dishevelled  and  weeping,  she  went 
back  to  her  sister  in  the  field,  nor  would  she  for  all  her  sister's 
urgent  questioning  tell  what  outrage  she  had  received  in  that 
house;  but  on  the  way  home,  feigning  to  grow  calmer  little  by 
little  and  to  speak  quite  without  agitation,  she  gave  her  sister 
some  directions.  Then  when  she  came  to  the  Oglio,  which  is 
the  river  that  flows  by  Gazuolo,*"  she  left  her  sister  a  little  be- 
hind not  knowing  or  imagining  what  she  meant  to  do,  and  sud- 
denly threw  herself  in.  Wailing  and  weeping  her  sister  ran 
after  her  as  fast  as  possible  along  the  bank  of  the  river,  which 
was  bearing  her  down-stream  very  rapidly:  and  each  time  the 
poor  creature  rose  to  the  surface,  her  sister  threw  her  a  cord 
which  they  had  to  bind  the  corn,  and  although  the  cord  reached 
her  hands  several  times  (for  she  was  still  near  the  bank),  the 
steadfast  and  determined  girl  always  refused  it  and  put  it  from 
her;  and  thus  rejecting  every  aid  that  might  save  her  life,  she 
soon  died:  nor  was  she  moved  by  nobility  of  birth,  nor  by  fear 
of  most  cruel  death  or  of  infamy,  but  solely  by  grief  for  her 
lost  virginity.*" 

"  Now  from  this  you  can  understand  how  many  other  women, 
who  are  not  known,  perform  acts  most  worthy  of  praise;  for 
although  this  one  gave  such  proof  of  her  virtue  only  three  days 



since,  as  one  may  say,  there  is  no  talk  of  her  and  even  her  name 
is  unknown.  But  if  the  death  of  our  lady  Duchess's  uncle,  the 
Bishop  of  Mantua,'"  had  not  occurred  at  that  time,  the  bank  of 
the  Oglio,  at  the  place  where  she  threw  herself  in,  would  have 
been  graced  by  a  very  beautiful  monument  to  the  memory  of 
that  glorious  soul,  which  deserved  so  much  the  brighter  fame 
after  death,  because  in  life  it  dwelt  in  a  less  noble  body." 
48 — Here  messer  Cesare  made  a  little  pause;  then  he  continued: 
"At  Rome,  in  my  day,  there  happened  another  like  case;  and  it 
was  that  a  beautiful  and  noble  Roman  girl,  being  long  pursued 
by  one  who  seemed  to  love  her  much,  was  never  willing  to 
favour  him  at  all,  even  with  a  single  look.  So,  by  means  of 
money  he  corrupted  one  of  her  women;  who,  desirous  of  satisfy- 
ing him  in  order  to  get  more  money  from  him,  persuaded  her 
mistress  to  visit  the  church  of  San  Sebastiano  on  a  certain  day 
of  small  solemnity;"'  and  having  made  everything  known  to  the 
lover  and  shown  him  what  he  must  do,  she  led  the  girl  to  one  of 
those  dark  caves  which  nearly  all  who  go  to  San  Sebastiano  are 
wont  to  visit;  and  in  this  the  young  man  was  already  hidden 

"  Finding  himself  alone  with  her  whom  he  loved  so  much,  he 
began  in  all  ways  to  beg  her  as  gently  as  he  could  to  have  pity 
on  him  and  change  her  former  hardness  to  love.  But  after  he 
saw  all  his  prayers  to  be  in  vain,  he  had  resort  to  threats,  which 
failing  too,  he  began  to  beat  her  cruelly;  at  last,  although  firmly 
resolved  to  attain  his  end,  by  force  if  necessary,  and  therein 
employing  the  help  of  the  infamous  woman  who  had  led  her 
thither,  he  was  never  able  to  bring  her  to  consent.  Nay,  with 
both  word  and  deed  (although  she  had  little  strength),  the  poor 
girl  defended  herself  to  the  last:  so  that  partly  from  anger  at 
seeing  that  he  could  not  obtain  what  he  desired,  partly  from  fear 
lest  her  relatives  might  make  him  suffer  for  it  when  they  learned 
the  thing,  this  wretch,  with  the  help  of  the  servant  (who  feared 
the  like),  strangled  the  unhappy  girl  and  left  her  there;  and 
having  fled,  he  took  means  not  to  be  discovered.  Blinded  by  her 
very  crime,  the  servant  could  not  flee,  and  being  taken  into 
custody  on  suspicion,  confessed  everything  and  so  was  punished 
as  she  deserved. 


"  The  body  of  the  steadfast  and  noble  girl  was  taken  from  that 
cave  with  the  greatest  honour  and  brought  to  Rome  for  burial, 
with  a  laurel  crown  upon  her  head,  and  accompanied  by  a 
countless  host  of  men  and  women;  among  whom  there  was  no 
one  who  went  home  without  tears  in  his  eyes;  and  thus  was  this 
rare  soul  universally  mourned  as  well  as  praised  by  all  the 

49 — "  But  to  speak  to  you  of  those  whom  you  yourselves  know, 
do  you  not  remember  having  heard  that  when  my  lady  Felice 
della  Rovere  was  journeying  to  Savona,*"  and  feared  that  some 
sails  that  were  sighted  were  vessels  of  Pope  Alexander  in  pur- 
suit of  her,  she  made  ready  with  fixed  resolve  to  cast  herself 
into  the  sea,  in  case  they  should  come  up  and  there  was  no 
remedy  by  flight:  and  it  is  in  no  wise  to  be  believed  that  she 
acted  in  this  from  lightness,  for  you  know  as  well  as  any  other 
with  what  intelligence  and  wisdom  this  lady's  singular  beauty 
was  accompanied. 

"  Nor  can  I  refrain  from  saying  a  word  of  our  lady  Duchess, 
who  having  for  fifteen  years  lived  like  a  widow  in  company  with 
her  husband,  not  only  was  steadfast  in  never  revealing  this  to 
anyone  in  the  w^orld,  but  when  urged  by  her  own  people  to  lay 
aside  her  widowhood,  she  chose  rather  to  endure  exile,  poverty 
and  every  other  sort  of  hardship,  than  to  accept  that  which 
seemed  to  all  others  great  favour  and  blessing  of  fortune;  """  and 
as  messer  Cesare  was  going  on  to  speak  of  this,  my  lady  Duchess 

"  Speak  of  something  else,  and  go  no  further  with  this  subject, 
for  you  have  many  other  things  to  say." 

Messer  Cesare  continued: 

"  Yet  I  know  you  will  not  deny  this,  my  lord  Gaspar,  nor  you, 

"  Indeed  no,"  replied  Frisio;  "but  one  does  not  make  a  host." 

50 — Then  messer  Cesare  said: 

"  It  is  true  that  such  great  results  as  these  are  met  in  few 
women:  still,  those  also  who  withstand  the  assaults  of  love  are 
all  admirable;  and  those  who  are  sometimes  overcome  deserve 
much  pity:  for  certainly  the  urgence  of  lovers,  the  arts  they  use, 
the  snares  they  spread,  are  so  many  and  so  continual  that  it  is 



but  too  great  a  wonder  that  a  tender  girl  can  escape.  What 
day,  what  hour,  ever  passes  that  the  persecuted  girl  is  not 
besought  by  the  lover  with  money,  gifts  and  all  things  that  must 
please  her?  When  can  she  ever  go  to  her  window,  but  she  shall 
always  see  her  persistent  lover  pass,  silent  in  word  but  with  eyes 
that  speak,  with  sad  and  languid  face,  with  those  burning  sighs, 
often  with  most  abundant  tears  ?  When  does  she  ever  go  forth 
to  church  or  other  place,  but  he  is  always  before  her,  and  meets 
her  at  every  turn  of  the  street  with  his  melancholy  passion  de- 
picted in  his  eyes,  as  if  he  were  expecting  instant  death?  I  leave 
aside  the  fripperies,  inventions,  mottoes,  devices,  festivals,  dances, 
games,  masques,  jousts,  tourneys! — all  which  things  she  knows 
are  made  for  her, 

"  Then  at  night  she  can  never  wake  but  she  hears  music,  or  at 
least  his  unquiet  spirit  sighing  about  the  house  walls  and  making 
lamentable  sounds.  If  by  chance  she  wishes  to  speak  to  one  of 
her  women,  the  wench  (already  corrupted  with  money)  soon  has 
ready  a  little  gift,  a  letter,  a  sonnet  or  some  such  thing  to  give 
her  on  the  lover's  behalf,  and  then  coming  in  opportunely,  makes 
her  understand  how  the  poor  man  is  burning  with  love,  and  in 
her  service  cares  naught  for  his  own  life;  and  how  he  seeks 
nothing  from  her  that  is  less  than  seemly,  and  only  desires  to 
speak  with  her.  Then  remedies  are  found  for  all  difficulties, 
false  keys,  rope  ladders,  sleeping  potions;  the  thing  is  painted  as 
of  little  consequence;  instances  are  given  of  many  other  women 
who  do  far  worse.  Thus  everything  is  made  so  easy  that  she 
has  no  further  trouble  than  to  say,  '  I  am  willing.'  And  even 
if  the  poor  girl  holds  back  for  a  time,  they  add  so  many  induce- 
ments, find  so  many  ways,  that  with  their  continual  battering 
they  break  down  that  which  stays  her. 

"And  when  they  see  that  blandishments  do  not  avail  them, 
there  are  many  who  have  resort  to  threats  and  say  they  will 
accuse  the  woman  to  her  husband  of  being  what  she  is  not. 
Others  bargain  boldly  with  the  fathers  and  often  with  the  hus- 
bands, who  for  money  or  to  get  favours  give  their  own  daughters 
and  wives  as  an  unwilling  prey.  Others  seek  by  incantations 
and  sorceries  to  steal  from  them  that  liberty  which  God  has 
bestowed  upon  their  souls:  whereof  startling  results  are  seen. 


"  But  I  could  not  in  a  thousand  years  rehearse  all  the  wiles 
that  men  employ  to  bring  women  to  their  wishes,  for  the  wiles 
are  infinite;  and  besides  those  that  every  man  finds  for  himself, 
writers  have  not  been  lacking  who  have  ingeniously  composed 
books  and  therein  taken  every  pains  to  teach  how  women  are  to 
be  duped  in  these  matters."'  Now,  among  so  many  snares,  think 
how  there  can  be  any  safety  for  these  simple  doves,  lured  by  such 
sweet  bait.  And  what  wonder  is  it,  then,  if  a  woman  (seeing 
herself  thus  loved  and  adored  for  many  years  by  a  beautiful, 
noble  and  accomplished  youth,  who  a  thousand  times  a  day  puts 
himself  in  danger  of  death  to  serve  her,  nor  ever  thinks  of  aught 
but  to  please  her)  is  finally  brought  to  love  him  by  continual 
wearing  (as  water  wears  the  hardest  marble),  and,  conquered  by 
this  passion,  contents  him  with  that  which  you  say  she  in  the 
weakness  of  her  sex  desires  more  than  her  lover  ?  Do  you  think 
that  this  errour  is  so  grave  that  the  poor  creature  who  has  been 
caught  by  so  many  flatteries,  does  not  deserve  even  that  pardon 
which  is  often  vouchsafed  to  homicides,  thieves,  assassins  and 
traitors?  Will  you  insist  that  this  offence  is  so  heinous  that 
because  you  find  some  woman  commits  it,  womankind  ought  to 
be  wholly  despised  and  held  universally  devoid  of  continence, 
without  regard  to  the  many  who  are  found  unconquerable,  and 
who  are  proof  against  love's  continual  incitements,  and  firmer  in 
their  infinite  constancy  than  rocks  against  the  surges  of  the 
ocean  ?  " 

51 — Messer  Cesare  having  ceased  speaking,  my  lord  Caspar 
then  began  to  reply,  but  my  lord  Ottaviano  said,  laughing: 

"  For  the  love  of  Heaven,  pray  grant  him  the  victory,  for  I 
know  you  will  profit  little;  and  methinks  I  see  that  you  will 
make  not  only  all  these  ladies  your  enemies,  but  the  greater 
part  of  the  men  also." 

My  lord  Gaspar  laughed,  and  said: 

"Nay,  the  ladies  have  great  cause  to  thank  me;  for  if  I  had 
not  gainsaid  my  lord  Magnifico  and  messer  Cesare,  all  these 
praises  which  they  have  bestowed  upon  women  would  not  have 
been  heard." 

Then  messer  Cesare  said: 

"  The  things  that  my  lord  Magnifico  and  I  have  said  in  praise 



of  women,  and  many  others  too,  were  very  well  known  and 
hence  superfluous. 

"  Who  does  not  know  that  without  women  we  can  feel  no 
content  or  satisfaction  throughout  this  life  of  ours,  which  but  for 
them  would  be  rude  and  devoid  of  all  sweetness  and  more 
savage  than  that  of  wild  beasts?  Who  does  not  know  that 
women  alone  banish  from  our  hearts  all  vile  and  base  thoughts, 
vexations,  miseries,  and  those  turbid  melancholies  that  so  often 
are  their  fellows?  and  if  you  will  consider  well  the  truth,  we 
shall  also  see  that  in  our  understanding  of  great  matters  women 
do  not  hamper  our  wits  but  rather  quicken  them,  and  in  war 
make  men  fearless  and  brave  beyond  measure.  And  certainly 
it  is  impossible  for  vileness  ever  again  to  rule  in  a  man's  heart 
where  once  the  flame  of  love  has  entered;  for  whoever  loves 
desires  always  to  make  himself  as  lovable  as  he  can,  and  always 
fears  lest  some  disgrace  befall  him  that  may  make  him  to  be 
esteemed  lightly  with  her  by  whom  he  desires  to  be  esteemed 
highly.  Nor  does  he  stop  at  risking  his  life  a  thousand  times 
a  day  to  show  himself  worthy  of  her  love:  hence  whoever  could 
form  an  army  of  lovers  and  have  them  fight  in  the  presence  of 
the  ladies  of  their  love,  would  conquer  all  the  world,  unless  there 
were  opposed  to  it  another  army  similarly  in  love.  And  be  well 
assured  that  Troy's  ten  years'  resistance  against  all  Greece  pro- 
ceeded from  naught  else  but  a  few  lovers,  who  on  sallying  forth 
to  battle,  armed  themselves  in  the  presence  of  their  women;  and 
often  these  women  helped  them  and  spoke  some  word  to  them 
at  leaving,  which  inflamed  them  and  made  them  more  than 
men.  Then  in  battle  they  knew  that  they  were  watched  by 
their  women  from  the  walls  and  towers;  wherefore  it  seemed  to 
them  that  every  act  of  hardihood  they  performed,  every  proof 
they  gave,  won  them  their  women's  praise,  which  was  the 
greatest  reward  they  could  have  in  the  world. 

"  There  are  many  who  think  that  the  victory  of  King  Ferdinand 
of  Spain  and  Queen  Isabella  against  the  King  of  Granada  was  in 
great  part  due  to  women;  for  very  often  when  the  Spanish  army 
went  out  to  meet  the  enemy.  Queen  Isabella  went  out  also  with 
all  her  maids  of  honour,  and  in  the  army  went  many  noble  cava- 
liers who  were  in  love.  These  always  went  conversing  with 


their  ladies  until  they  reached  the  place  where  the  enemy  were 
seen,  then  taking  leave  each  of  his  own  lady,  they  went  on  in 
this  presence  to  meet  the  enemy  with  that  fierce  spirit  which 
was  aroused  in  them  by  their  love  and  by  the  desire  to  make 
their  ladies  sensible  of  being  served  by  men  of  valour;  thus  a 
very  few  Spanish  cavaliers  were  often  found  putting  a  host  of 
Moors  to  flight  and  to  death,  thanks  to  gentle  and  beloved  women. 

"  So  I  do  not  see,  my  lord  Gaspar,  what  perversity  of  judg- 
ment has  led  you  to  cast  reproach  on  women. 

52.—"  Do  you  not  know  that  the  origin  of  all  the  graceful  exer- 
cises that  give  pleasure  in  the  world  is  to  be  ascribed  to  none 
other  than  to  women?  Who  learns  to  dance  and  caper  gallantly 
for  aught  else  than  to  please  women?  Who  studies  the  sweetness 
of  music  for  other  cause  than  this?  W^ho  tries  to  compose 
verses,  in  the  vernacular  at  least,  unless  to  express  those  feelings 
that  are  inspired  by  women?  Think  how  many  very  noble 
poems  we  should  be  deprived  of,  both  in  the  Greek  tongue  and 
in  the  Latin,  if  women  had  been  lightly  esteemed  by  the  poets. 
But  to  pass  all  the  others  by,  would  it  not  have  been  a  very 
great  loss  if  messer  Francesco  Petrarch,  who  so  divinely  wrote 
his  loves  in  this  language  of  ours,  had  turned  his  mind  solely  to 
things  Latin,  as  he  would  have  done  if  the  love  of  madonna 
Laura  had  not  sometimes  drawn  him  from  them?*"^  I  do  not 
name  you  the  bright  geniuses  now  on  earth  and  present  here, 
who  every  day  put  forth  some  noble  fruit  and  yet  choose  their 
subject  only  from  the  beauties  and  virtues  of  women. 

"  You  see  that  Solomon,  wishing  to  write  mystically  of  things 
lofty  and  divine,  to  cover  them  with  a  graceful  veil  composed  a 
fervent  and  tender  dialogue  between  a  lover  and  his  sweetheart, 
deeming  that  he  could  not  here  below  find  any  similitude  more 
apt  and  befitting  things  divine  than  love  for  women;  and  in  this 
way  he  tried  to  give  us  a  little  of  the  savour  of  that  divinity 
which  he  both  by  knowledge  and  by  grace  knew  better  than  the 

"  Hence  there  was  no  need,  my  lord  Gaspar,  to  dispute  about 
this,  or  at  least  so  wordily:  but  by  gainsaying  the  truth  you  have 
prevented  us  from  hearing  a  thousand  other  fine  and  weighty 
matters  concerning  the  perfection  of  the  Court  Lady." 



My  lord  Caspar  replied: 

"  I  believe  nothing  more  is  left  to  say;  yet  if  you  think  that  my 
lord  Magnifico  has  not  adorned  her  with  enough  good  qualities, 
the  fault  lay  not  with  him,  but  with  the  one  who  arranged  that 
there  are  not  more  virtues  in  the  world;  for  the  Magnifico  gave 
her  all  there  are." 

My  lady  Duchess  said,  laughing: 

"  You  shall  now  see  that  my  lord  Magnifico  will  find  still 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Indeed,  my  Lady,  methinks  I  have  said  enough,  and  for  my 
part  I  am  content  with  this  Lady  of  mine;  and  if  these  gentle- 
men will  not  have  her  as  she  is,  let  them  leave  her  to  me." 

53-— Here  everyone  remaining  silent,  messer  Federico  said: 

"  My  lord  Magnifico,  to  spur  you  on  to  say  something  more,  I 
should  like  to  put  you  a  question  concerning  what  you  would 
have  the  chief  business  of  the  Court  Lady,  and  it  is  this:  that  I 
wish  to  hear  how  she  ought  to  conduct  herself  with  respect  to 
one  detail  which  seems  to  me  very  important;  for  although  the 
excellent  qualities  wherewith  you  have  endowed  her  include 
genius,  wisdom,  good  sense,  ease  of  bearing,  modesty,  and  so 
many  other  virtues,  whereby  she  ought  in  reason  to  be  able  to 
converse  with  everyone  and  on  every  theme,  still  I  think  that 
more  than  anything  else  she  needs  to  know  that  which  belongs 
to  discussions  on  love.  For  as  every  gentle  cavalier  uses  those 
noble  exercises,  elegances  and  fine  manners  that  we  have  men- 
tioned, as  a  means  to  win  the  favour  of  women,  to  this  end  like- 
wise he  employs  words;  and  not  only  when  he  is  moved  by  pas- 
sion, but  often  also  to  do  honour  to  the  lady  with  whom  he  is 
speaking,  since  he  thinks  that  to  give  signs  of  love  for  her  is  a 
proof  that  she  is  worthy  of  it,  and  that  her  beauty  and  merits  are 
so  great  that  they  compel  every  man  to  serve  her. 

"  Hence  I  fain  would  know  how  this  lady  ought  to  converse  on 
such  a  theme  discreetly,  and  how  reply  to  him  who  loves  her 
truly,  and  how  to  him  who  makes  a  false  pretence  thereof;  and 
whether  she  ought  to  feign  not  to  understand,  whether  to  return 
his  love  or  to  refuse,  and  how  conduct  herself." 

54 — Then  my  lord  Magnifico  said: 



"  It  would  be  needful  to  teach  her  first  to  distinguish  those 
who  pretend  to  love  and  those  who  love  truly;  then,  as  to  return- 
ing love  or  not,  I  think  she  ought  not  to  be  governed  by  any 
others'  wish  but  her  own." 

Messer  Federico  said: 

"  Then  teach  her  what  are  the  surest  and  safest  signs  to  dis- 
cern false  love  from  true,  and  with  what  proof  she  ought  to  be 
content  in  order  to  be  sure  of  the  love  shown  her." 

The  Magnifico  replied,  laughing: 

"  I  know  not,  for  men  to-day  are  so  cunning  that  they  make 
false  pretences  without  end,  and  sometimes  weep  when  they 
have  great  wish  to  laugh;  hence  it  were  necessary  to  send  them 
to  Isola  Ferma  under  the  True  Lovers'  Arch.*" 

"  But  to  the  end  that  this  Lady  of  mine  (of  whom  it  behooves 
me  to  take  special  care,  since  she  is  my  creation)  may  not  fall 
into  those  errours  wherein  I  have  seen  many  others  fall,  I  should 
tell  her  not  to  be  quick  to  believe  herself  loved,  nor  act  like  some 
who  not  only  do  not  feign  not  to  understand  when  court  is  paid 
to  them  even  covertly,  but  at  the  first  word  accept  all  the  praise 
that  is  given  them,  or  decline  it  with  a  certain  air  that  is  rather 
an  invitation  to  love  for  those  with  whom  they  are  speaking, 
than  a  refusal. 

"  Therefore  the  course  of  conduct  that  I  wish  my  Court  Lady 
to  pursue  in  love  talk,  will  be  to  refuse  always  to  believe  that 
whoever  pays  court  to  her  for  that  reason  loves  her:  and  if  the 
gentleman  shall  be  as  pert  as  many  are,  and  speak  to  her  with 
small  respect,  she  will  give  him  such  answer  that  he  may 
clearly  understand  he  is  causing  her  annoyance.  Again,  if  he 
shall  be  discreet  and  use  modest  phrases  and  words  of  love 
covertly,  with  that  gentle  manner  which  I  think  the  Courtier 
fashioned  by  these  gentlemen  will  employ,  the  lady  will  feign 
not  to  understand  and  will  apply  his  words  in  another  sense, 
always  modestly  trying  to  change  the  subject  with  that  skill  and 
prudence  which  have  been  said  befit  her.  If,  again,  the  talk  is 
such  that  she  cannot  feign  not  to  understand,  she  will  take  it  all 
as  a  jest,  pretending  to  be  aware  that  it  is  said  to  her  more  out 
of  compliment  to  her  than  because  it  is  true,  depreciating  her 
merits  and  ascribing  the  praises  that  he  gives  her  to  the  gentle- 



man's  courtesy;  and  in  this  way  she  will  win  a  name  for  discre- 
tion and  be  safer  against  deceit. 

"  After  this  fashion  methinks  the  Court  Lady  ought  to  conduct 
herself  in  love  talk." 

55.— Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"  My  lord  Magnifico,  you  discourse  of  this  matter  as  if  every- 
one who  pays  court  to  women  must  needs  speak  lies  and  seek 
to  deceive  them :  if  the  which  were  true,  I  should  say  that  your 
teachings  were  sound;  but  if  this  cavalier  who  is  speaking  loves 
truly  and  feels  that  passion  which  sometimes  so  sorely  afflicts 
the  human  heart,  do  you  not  consider  in  what  pain,  in  what 
calamity  and  mortal  anguish  you  put  him  by  insisting  that  the 
lady  shall  never  believe  anything  he  says  on  this  subject?  Ought 
his  supplications,  tears,  and  many  other  signs  to  go  for  naught? 
Have  a  care,  my  lord  Magnifico,  lest  it  be  thought  that  besides 
the  natural  cruelty  which  many  of  these  ladies  have  in  them, 
you  are  teaching  them  still  more." 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  I  spoke  not  of  him  who  loves,  but  of  him  who  entertains 
with  amourous  talk,  wherein  one  of  the  most  necessary  condi- 
tions is  that  words  shall  never  be  lacking.  But  just  as  true 
lovers  have  glowing  hearts,  so  they  have  cold  tongues,  with 
broken  speech  and  sudden  silence;  wherefore  perhaps  it  would 
not  be  a  false  assumption  to  say:  'Who  loves  much,  speaks 
little.'  Yet  as  to  this  I  believe  no  certain  rule  can  be  given,  be- 
cause of  the  diversity  of  men's  habits;  nor  could  I  say  anything 
more  than  that  the  Lady  must  be  very  cautious,  and  always  bear 
in  mind  that  men  can  declare  their  love  with  much  less  danger 
than  women  can." 

56.— Then  my  lord  Caspar  said,  laughing: 

"  Would  you  not,  my  lord  Magnifico,  have  this  admirable 
Lady  of  yours  love  in  return  even  when  she  knows  that  she  is 
loved  truly?  For  if  the  Courtier  were  not  loved  in  return,  it  is 
not  conceivable  that  he  should  go  on  loving  her;  and  thus  she 
would  lose  many  advantages,  and  especially  that  service  and 
reverence  with  which  lovers  honour  and  almost  adore  the  virtue 
of  their  beloved." 

"  As  to  that,"  replied  the  Magnifico,  "  I  do  not  wish  to  give 


advice;  but  I  do  say  that  I  think  love,  as  you  understand  it,  is 
proper  only  for  unmarried  women;  for  when  this  love  cannot 
end  in  marriage,  the  lady  must  always  find  in  it  that  remorse 
and  sting  which  things  illicit  give  her,  and  run  risk  of  staining 
that  reputation  for  chastity  which  is  so  important  to  her." 

Then  messer  Federico  replied,  laughing: 

"  This  opinion  of  yours,  my  lord  Magnifico,  seems  to  me  very 
austere,  and  I  think  you  have  learned  it  from  some  preacher — 
one  of  those  who  rebuke  women  for  loving  laymen,  in  order  to 
have  themselves  the  better  part  therein.  And  methinks  you  im- 
pose too  hard  a  rule  on  married  women,  for  many  of  them  are 
to  be  found  whose  husbands  bear  them  the  greatest  hatred 
without  cause,  and  affront  them  grievously,  sometimes  by  loving 
other  women,  sometimes  by  causing  them  all  the  annoyances 
possible  to  devise;  some  against  their  will  are  married  by  their 
fathers  to  old  men,  infirm,  loathsome  and  disgusting,  who  make 
them  live  in  continual  misery.  If  such  women  were  allowed  to 
be  divorced  and  separated  from  those  with  whom  they  are  ill 
mated,  perhaps  it  would  not  be  fitting  for  them  to  love  any  but 
their  husbands;  but  when,  either  by  enmity  of  the  stars  or  by  un- 
fitness of  temperament  or  by  other  accident,  it  happens  that  the 
marriage  bed,  which  ought  to  be  a  nest  of  concord  and  of  love, 
is  strewn  by  the  accursed  infernal  fury  with  the  seed  of  its 
venom,  which  then  brings  forth  anger,  suspicion  and  the  stinging 
thorns  of  hatred  to  torment  those  unhappy  souls  cruelly  bound 
by  an  unbreakable  chain  until  death, — why  are  you  unwilling 
that  the  woman  should  be  allowed  to  seek  some  refuge  from  the 
heavy  lash,  and  to  bestow  on  others  that  which  is  not  only 
spurned  but  hated  by  her  husband?  I  am  quite  of  the  opinion 
that  those  who  have  suitable  husbands  and  are  loved  by  them, 
ought  not  to  do.  them  wrong;  but  the  others  wrong  themselves 
by  not  loving  those  who  love  them." 

"Nay,"  replied  the  Magnifico,  "they  wrong  themselves  by 
loving  others  than  their  husbands.  Still,  since  not  to  love  is 
often  beyond  our  power,  if  this  mischance  shall  happen  to  the 
Court  Lady  (that  her  husband's  hate  or  another's  love  brings 
her  to  love),  I  would  have  her  yield  her  lover  nothing  but  her 
spirit;  nor  ever  let  her  show  him  any  clear  sign  of  love  (either 



by  words  or  by  gestures  or  by  any  other  means)  by  which  he 
may  be  sure  of  it." 

57-— Then  messer  Roberto  da  Bari  said,  laughing: 

"  I  appeal  from  this  judgment  of  yours,  my  lord  Magnifico,  and 
think  I  shall  have  many  with  me;  but  since  you  will  teach  mar- 
ried women  this  rusticity,  so  to  speak,  do  you  wish  also  to  have 
the  unmarried  equally  cruel  and  discourteous? — and  complai- 
sant to  their  lovers  in  nothing  whatever?" 

"  If  my  Court  Lady  be  unmarried,"  replied  my  lord  Magnifico, 
"  and  must  love,  I  wish  her  to  love  someone  whom  she  can 
marry;  nor  shall  I  account  it  an  errour  if  she  shows  him  some 
sign  of  love:  as  to  which  matter  I  wish  to  teach  her  one  uni- 
versal rule  in  a  few  words,  to  the  end  that  she  may  with  little 
pains  be  able  to  bear  it  in  mind;  and  this  is,  let  her  show  him 
who  loves  her  every  token  of  love  except  such  as  may  imbue  her 
lover's  mind  with  the  hope  of  obtaining  something  wanton  from 
her.  And  it  is  necessary  to  give  great  heed  to  this,  for  it  is  an 
errour  committed  by  countless  women,  who  commonly  desire 
nothing  more  than  to  be  beautiful:  and  since  to  have  many 
lovers  seems  to  them  proof  of  their  beauty,  they  take  every 
pains  to  get  as  many  as  they  can.  Thus  they  are  often  carried 
into  reckless  behaviour,  and  forsaking  that  temperate  modesty 
which  so  becomes  them,  they  employ  certain  pert  looks  with 
scurrile  words  and  acts  full  of  immodesty,  thinking  that  they  are 
gladly  seen  and  listened  to  for  this  and  that  by  such  ways  they 
make  themselves  loved:  which  is  false;  for  the  demonstrations 
that  are  made  to  them  spring  from  desire  excited  by  a  belief  in 
their  willingness,  not  from  love.  Wherefore  I  wish  that  my 
Court  Lady  may  not  by  wanton  behaviour  seem  to  offer  herself 
to  anyone  who  wants  her  and  to  do  her  best  to  lure  the  eyes  and 
appetite  of  all  who  look  upon  her,  but  that  by  her  merits  and 
virtuous  conduct,  by  her  loveliness,  by  her  grace,  she  may  imbue 
the  mind  of  all  who  see  her  with  that  true  love  which  is  due  to 
all  things  lovable,  and  with  that  respect  which  always  deprives 
him  of  hope  who  thinks  of  any  wantonness, 

"  Moreover,  he  who  is  loved  by  such  a  woman  ought  to  con- 
tent himself  with  her  every  slightest  demonstration,  and  to  prize 
a  single  loving  look  from  her  more  than  complete  possession  of 


any  other  woman;  and  to  such  a  Lady  I  should  not  know  how 
to  add  anything,  unless  to  have  her  loved  by  so  excellent  a 
Courtier  as  these  gentlemen  have  described,  and  to  have  her 
love  him  also,  to  the  end  that  they  may  both  attain  their  com- 
plete perfection." 

58.— Having  thus  far  spoken,  my  lord  Magnifico  was  silent; 
whereupon  my  lord  Gaspar  said,  laughing: 

"  Now,  in  sooth,  you  will  not  be  able  to  complain  that  my  lord 
Magnifico  has  not  described  a  most  excellent  Court  Lady;  and 
henceforth,  if  such  an  one  is  found,  I  admit  that  she  deserves  to 
be  esteemed  the  Courtier's  equal." 

My  lady  Emilia  replied: 

"  I  engage  to  find  her,  provided  you  will  find  the  Courtier." 

Messer  Roberto  added: 

♦'  Verily  it  cannot  be  denied  that  the  Lady  described  by  my 
lord  Magnifico  is  most  perfect:  nevertheless,  as  to  those  last 
conditions  of  love,  methinks  he  has  made  her  a  little  too  austere, 
especially  when  he  would  have  her  deprive  her  lover  of  all  hope, 
by  words,  gestures  and  behaviour,  and  do  all  she  can  to  plunge 
the  man  in  despair.  For  as  everyone  knows,  human  desires  do 
not  spend  themselves  upon  those  things  whereof  there  is  not 
some  hope.  And  although  a  few  women  may  have  indeed  been 
found,  haughty  perhaps  by  reason  of  their  beauty  and  worth, 
whose  first  word  to  anyone  who  paid  them  court  was  that  he 
must  never  expect  to  have  anything  from  them  that  he  wished, — 
yet  afterwards  they  have  been  a  little  more  gracious  to  him  in 
look  and  manner,  so  that  by  their  kindly  acts  they  have  some- 
what tempered  their  haughty  words.  But  if  this  Lady  by  acts 
and  words  and  manner  removes  all  hope,  I  think  our  Courtier, 
if  he  is  wise,  will  never  love  her;  and  thus  she  will  have  the 
imperfection  of  being  without  a  lover." 

59-— Then  the  Magnifico  said: 

"  I  do  not  wish  my  Court  Lady  to  remove  hope  of  everything, 
but  only  of  wanton  things,  which  (if  the  Courtier  be  as  courteous 
and  discreet  as  these  gentlemen  have  described  him)  he  will  not 
only  not  hope  for,  but  will  not  even  wish  for.  Because  if  the 
beauty,  behaviour,  cleverness,  goodness,  knowledge,  modesty, 
and  the  many  other  worthy  qualities  that  we  have  given  the 



Lady,  are  the  cause  of  the  Courtier's  love  for  her,  the  end  of 
his  love  will  necessarily  be  worthy  too:  and  if  nobility,  excel- 
lence in  arms  and  letters  and  music,  if  gentleness  and  the  pos- 
session of  so  many  graces  in  speech  and  conversation,  be  the 
means  whereby  the  Courtier  is  to  win  the  lady's  love,  the  end  of 
that  love  must  needs  be  of  like  quality  with  the  means  whereby 
it  is  attained. 

"  Moreover,  just  as  there  are  divers  sorts  of  beauty  in  the 
world,  so  too  there  are  divers  tastes  in  men;  and  thus  it  happens 
that  when  they  see  a  woman  of  that  serious  beauty,  which 
(whether  she  be  going  or  staying  or  joking  or  jesting  or  doing 
what  you  will)  always  so  tempers  her  whole  behaviour  as  to 
induce  a  certain  reverence  in  anyone  who  looks  upon  her, — 
many  are  abashed  and  dare  not  serve  her;  and  lured  by  hope, 
they  oftener  love  attractive  and  enticing  women,  so  soft  and  ten- 
der as  to  display  in  words  and  acts  and  looks  a  certain  languour- 
ous  passion  that  promises  easily  to  pass  and  be  changed  into 

"  To  be  safe  against  deceits,  some  men  love  another  sort  of 
women,  who  are  so  free  of  eye  and  word  and  movement  as  to  do 
the  first  thing  that  comes  into  their  mind  with  a  certain  sim- 
plicity which  does  not  hide  their  thoughts.  Nor  are  there  lack- 
ing other  generous  souls,  who — (esteeming  that  worth  is  shown  in 
difficulty,  and  that  it  would  be  a  victory  most  sweet  to  conquer 
what  to  others  seems  unconquerable),  in  order  to  give  proof  that 
their  valour  is  able  to  force  a  stubborn  mind  and  persuade  to 
love  even  wills  that  are  contrary  and  recusant  thereto, — readily 
turn  to  love  the  beauties  of  those  women  who  by  eyes  and 
words  and  behaviour  show  more  austere  severity  than  the 
others.  Wherefore  these  men  who  are  so  self-confident,  and 
who  account  themselves  secure  against  being  deceived,  willingly 
love  certain  women  also  who  by  cunning  and  art  seem  to  con- 
ceal a  thousand  wiles  with  beauty;  or  else  some  others,  who 
along  with  their  beauty  have  a  coquettishly  disdainful  manner 
of  few  words  and  few  laughs,  with  almost  an  air  of  prizing  little 
every  man  who  looks  upon  them  or  serves  them. 

"  Then  there  are  certain  other  men  who  deign  to  love  only 
those  women  who  in  face  and  speech  and  every  movement  carry 


all  elegance,  all  gentle  manners,  all  knowledge,  and  all  the 
graces  heaped  together, — like  a  single  flower  composed  of  all 
the  excellences  in  the  world.  Thus  if  my  Court  Lady  have  a 
dearth  of  those  loves  that  spring  from  evil  hope,  she  will  not  on 
that  account  be  left  without  a  lover;  for  she  will  not  lack  those 
loves  that  spring  both  from  her  merits  and  from  her  lovers'  con- 
fidence in  their  own  worth,  whereby  they  will  know  themselves 
to  be  worthy  of  being  loved  by  her." 

60.— Messer  Roberto  still  objected,  but  my  lady  Duchess  held 
him  in  the  wrong,  supporting  my  lord  Magnifico's  argument; 
then  she  continued: 

"  We  have  no  cause  to  complain  of  my  lord  Magnifico,  for  I 
truly  think  that  the  Court  Lady  described  by  him  may  stand  on 
a  par  with  the  Courtier,  and  even  with  some  advantage;  for  he 
has  taught  her  how  to  love,  which  these  gentlemen  did  not  do 
for  their  Courtier." 

Then  the  Unico  Aretino  said: 

"  It  is  very  fitting  to  teach  women  how  to  love,  for  rarely  have 
I  seen  any  that  knew  how:  since  they  nearly  all  accompany 
their  beauty  with  cruelty  and  ingratitude  towards  those  who 
serve  them  most  faithfully  and  deserve  the  reward  of  their  love 
by  nobility  of  birth,  gentleness  and  worth ;  and  then  they  often 
give  themselves  a  prey  to  men  who  are  very  silly,  base,  and  of 
small  account,  and  who  not  only  love  them  not,  but  hate  them. 

"  So,  to  avoid  such  grievous  errours  as  these,  perhaps  it  was 
w^ell  to  teach  them  first  how  to  make  choice  of  a  man  who  shall 
deserve  to  be  loved,  and  then  how  to  love  him ;  which  is  not 
needful  in  the  case  of  men,  who  know  it  but  too  well  of  them- 
selves. And  here  I  can  be  a  good  witness;  for  love  was  never 
taught  me  save  by  the  divine  beauty  and  divinest  behaviour  of 
a  Lady  whom  it  was  beyond  my  power  not  to  adore,  wherein  I 
had  no  need  of  art  or  any  master ;'""  and  I  think  that  the  same 
happens  with  all  who  love  truly.  Hence  it  were  fitting  to  teach 
the  Courtier  how  to  make  himself  loved  rather  than  how  to 

61.— Here  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"  Then  discourse  of  this  now,  my  lord  Unico." 

The  Unico  replied : 




1465?- 1535 

Head  enlarged  from  a  photograph,  specially  made  by  Alinari,  of  a  part  of  the  fresco, 
"Leo  X's  Entry  into  Florence,"  in  the  Palazzo  Vecchio  at  Florence, by  Giorgio  Vasari 
(1511-1574).    See  Milanesi's  edition  of  Vasari's  Opere,  viii,  143. 


liiSiioia  vtl  .tiinriri.'?  -1.  "u-fjroV  'ji.tttl  3<ij  ni  ".sjniiofi  oJoi  ifima  «'X  oad  " 



"  Methinks  reason  would  require  that  ladies'  favour  should  be 
won  by  serving  and  pleasing  them;  but  by  what  they  deem 
themselves  served  and  pleased,  I  think  must  needs  be  learned 
from  ladies  themselves,  who  often  desire  things  so  strange  that 
there  is  no  man  who  would  imagine  the  same,  and  sometimes 
they  do  not  themselves  know  what  they  desire.  Hence  it  is 
right  that  you,  my  Lady,  who  are  a  woman  and  so  must  surely 
know  what  pleases  women,  should  undertake  this  task,  to  do  the 
world  so  great  a  benefit." 

Then  my  lady  Emilia  said: 

"  The  very  great  favour  that  you  always  find  with  women  is 
good  proof  that  you  know  all  the  ways  by  which  their  grace  is 
won;  hence  it  is  quite  fitting  that  you  should  teach  them." 

"  My  Lady,"  replied  the  Unico,  "  I  could  give  a  lover  no  more 
useful  warning  than  to  look  to  it  that  you  have  no  influence  over 
the  lady  whose  favour  he  seeks;  for  such  good  qualities  as  the 
world  once  thought  were  in  me,  together  with  the  sincerest  love 
that  ever  was,  have  not  had  so  much  power  to  make  me  loved 
as  you  have  to  make  me  hated." 

62.— Then  my  lady  Emilia  replied: 

"  My  lord  Unico,  God  forbid  that  I  should  even  think,  much 
less  do,  anything  to  make  you  hated;  for  besides  doing  what  I 
ought  not,  I  should  be  esteemed  of  little  sense  for  attempting  the 
impossible.  But  since  you  urge  me  thus  to  speak  of  that  which 
pleases  women,  I  will  speak;  and  if  you  shall  be  displeased, 
blame  yourself  for  it. 

"  I  think,  then,  that  whoever  would  be  loved  must  love  and  be 
lovable;  and  that  these  two  things  suffice  to  win  women's  favour. 

"  Now  to  answer  that  which  you  accuse  me  of,  I  say  that 
everyone  knows  and  sees  that  you  are  very  lovable;  but  whether 
you  love  as  sincerely  as  you  say,  I  am  very  much  in  doubt,  and 
perhaps  the  others  too.  For  your  being  too  lovable  has  brought 
it  to  pass  that  you  have  been  loved  by  many  women :  and  great 
rivers  divided  into  many  parts  become  little  streams;  so  love, 
bestowed  upon  more  than  one  object,  has  little  strength.  But 
these  continual  laments  of  yours,  and  complaints  of  ingratitude 
in  the  women  you  have  served  (which  is  not  probable,  in  view 
of  your  great  merits),  are  a  certain  sort  of  mystery  to  hide  the 


favours,  contentments  and  pleasures  attained  by  you  in  love,  and 
to  assure  the  women  who  love  you  and  have  given  themselves  to 
you,  that  you  will  not  betray  them;  and  hence  also  they  are  con- 
tent that  you  should  thus  openly  display  feigned  love  for  others 
to  hide  their  real  love  for  you.  So,  if  the  women  whom  you  now 
pretend  to  love  are  not  so  ready  to  believe  it  as  you  would  like, 
the  reason  is  because  this  artfulness  of  yours  in  love  is  beginning 
to  be  understood,  not  because  I  make  you  hated." 

63.— Then  my  lord  Unico  said: 

"  I  do  not  wish  to  try  again  to  confute  your  words,  because  I  at 
last  perceive  that  it  is  as  much  my  fate  not  to  be  believed  when 
I  say  truth,  as  it  is  yours  to  be  believed  when  you  say  untruth." 

"  Say  rather,  my  lord  Unico,"  replied  by  lady  Emilia,  "  that 
you  do  not  love  as  you  would  have  us  believe;  for  if  you  loved, 
all  your  desire  would  be  to  please  your  beloved  lady  and  to  wish 
what  she  wishes,  because  this  is  the  law  of  love;  but  your  thus 
complaining  of  her  denotes  some  deceit,  as  'I  said,  or  indeed 
gives  proof  that  you  wish  what  she  does  not  wish." 

"  Nay,"  said  my  lord  Unico,  "  indeed  I  wish  what  she  wishes, 
which  is  proof  that  I  love  her;  but  I  complain  that  she  does  not 
wish  what  I  wish,  which  is  a  token  that  she  loves  me  not,  ac- 
cording to  that  same  rule  that  you  have  cited." 

My  lady  Emilia  replied: 

"  He  who  begins  to  love  ought  also  to  begin  to  please  his 
beloved  and  bend  himself  wholly  to  her  wishes,  and  govern  his 
by  hers;  and  make  his  own  desires  her  slaves,  and  his  very  soul 
like  unto  an  obedient  handmaid,  nor  ever  think  of  aught  but  to 
let  it  be  transformed,  if  possible,  into  that  of  his  beloved,  and  to 
account  this  as  his  highest  happiness;  for  they  do  thus  who  love 

"Assuredly,"  said  my  lord  Unico,  "my  highest  happiness 
would  be  to  have  a  single  wish  rule  her  soul  and  mine." 

"  It  rests  with  you  to  have  it  so,"  replied  my  lady  Emilia. 

64.— Then  messer  Bernardo  interrupted  and  said: 

"  Certain  it  is  that  he  who  loves  truly  bends  all  his  thoughts  to 
serve  and  please  the  lady  of  his  love,  without  being  shown  the 
way  by  others;  but  as  these  loving  services  are  sometimes  not 
clearly  perceived,  I  think  that  besides  loving  and  serving  it  is 



further  necessary  to  make  some  other  demonstration  of  his  love 
so  evident  that  the  lady  cannot  hide  her  knowledge  that  she  is 
loved;  yet  with  such  modesty  withal  that  he  may  not  seem  to 
have  small  respect  for  her.  And  since  you,  my  Lady,  began  to 
tell  how  the  lover's  soul  must  be  the  obedient  handmaid  of  his 
beloved,  I  pray  you  explain  this  secret  also,  which  seems  to  me 
very  important," 

Messer  Cesare  laughed,  and  said: 

"  If  the  lover  is  so  modest  that  he  is  ashamed  to  tell  her  of  his 
love,  let  him  write  it  to  her." 

My  lady  Emilia  added: 

"  Nay,  if  he  is  as  discreet  as  becomes  him,  he  ought  to  be  sure 
of  not  offending  her  before  he  declares  himself  to  her." 

Then  my  lord  Caspar  said: 

"All  women  like  to  be  sued  in  love,  even  though  they  mean  to 
refuse  that  which  they  are  sued  for." 

The  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"You  are  very  wrong;  nor  should  I  advise  the  Courtier  ever 
to  employ  this  method,  unless  he  be  certain  of  not  being  re- 

65.—"  Then  what  is  he  to  do?  "  said  my  lord  Caspar. 

The  Magnifico  continued: 

"  If  he  must  speak  or  write,  let  him  do  it  with  such  modesty 
and  so  warily  that  his  first  words  shall  try  her  mind,  and  shall 
touch  so  ambiguously  upon  her  wish  as  to  leave  a  way  and  cer- 
tain loophole  that  may  enable  her  to  feign  not  to  see  that  his 
discourse  imports  love,  to  the  end  that  he  may  retreat  in  case  of 
difficulty  and  pretend  that  he  spoke  or  wrote  to  some  other  end, 
in  order  to  enjoy  in  safety  those  intimate  caresses  and  coquet- 
ries that  a  woman  often  grants  to  him  who  she  thinks  accepts 
them  in  friendships  and  then  withholds  them  as  soon  as  she  finds 
they  are  received  as  demonstrations  of  love.  Hence  those  men 
who  are  too  precipitate  and  venture  thus  presumptuously  with  a 
kind  of  fury  and  stubbornness,  often  lose  these  favours,  and 
deservedly;  for  every  noble  lady  regards  herself  as  little 
esteemed  by  him  who  rudely  wooes  her  before  having  done  her 

66.—"  Therefore  in  my  opinion  the  way  that  the  Courtier  ought 



to  take  to  make  his  love  known  to  the  Lady,  seems  to  me  to  be 
by  showing  it  to  her  in  manner  rather  than  in  words; — for  verily 
more  of  love's  affection  is  sometimes  revealed  in  a  sigh,  in  rever- 
ence, in  timidity,  than  in  a  thousand  words; — next  by  making 
his  eyes  to  be  faithful  messengers  to  bear  the  embassies  of  his 
heart,  since  they  often  show  the  passion  that  is  within  more 
clearly  than  the  tongue  itself  or  letters  or  other  couriers:  so  that 
they  not  only  disclose  thoughts,  but  often  kindle  love  in  the 
beloved's  heart.  Because  those  quick  spirits  that  issue  from  the 
eyes,  being  generated  near  the  heart,  enter  again  by  the  eyes 
(whither  they  are  aimed  like  an  arrow  at  the  mark),  and  natu- 
rally reach  the  heart  as  if  it  were  their  abode,  and  mingling  with 
those  other  spirits  there  and  with  that  subtle  quality  of  blood 
which  they  have  in  them,  they  infect  the  blood  near  the  heart  to 
w^hich  they  have  come,  and  warm  it,  and  make  it  like  themselves 
and  ready  to  receive  the  impression  of  that  image  which  they 
have  brought  with  them.  Travelling  thus  to  and  fro  over  the 
road  from  eyes  to  heart,  and  bringing  back  the  tinder  and  steel 
of  beauty  and  grace,  little  by  little  these  messengers  fan  with  the 
breath  of  desire  that  fire  which  glows  so  ardently  and  never 
ceases  to  burn  because  they  are  always  bringing  it  the  fuel 
of  hope  to  feed  on. 

"  Hence  it  may  be  well  said  that  eyes  are  the  guide  in  love, 
especially  if  they  are  kind  and  soft;  black,  of  a  bright  and  gentle 
blackness,  or  blue;  merry  and  laughing,  so  gracious  and  keen 
of  glance,  like  some  wherein  the  channels  that  give  the  spirits 
egress  seem  so  deep  that  through  them  we  can  see  the  very 
heart.  Then  the  eyes  lie  in  wait,  just  as  in  war  soldiers  lurk  in 
ambush;  and  if  the  form  of  the  whole  body  is  fair  and  well  pro- 
portioned, it  attracts  and  allures  anyone  who  looks  upon  it  from 
afar  until  he  approaches,  and,  as  soon  as  he  is  near,  the  eyes  dart 
forth  and  bewitch  like  sorcerers;  and  especially  when  they  send 
out  their  rays  straight  to  the  eyes  of  the  beloved  at  a  moment 
when  these  are  doing  the  same;  because  the  spirits  meet,  and  in 
that  sweet  encounter  each  receives  the  other's  quality,  as  we  see 
in  the  case  of  an  eye  diseased,  which  by  looking  fixedly  into  a 
sound  one  imparts  thereto  its  own  disease.  So  methinks  in  this 
way  our  Courtier  can  in  great  part  manifest  his  love  for  his  Lady. 



"  True  it  is  that  if  the  eyes  are  not  governed  with  skill,  they 
often  most  disclose  a  man's  amourous  desires  to  whom  he  least 
would  do  so ;  for  through  them  there  shines  forth  almost  visibly 
that  ardent  passion  which  (while  wishing  to  reveal  it  only  to  his 
beloved)  the  lover  often  reveals  also  to  those  from  whom  he 
most  would  hide  it.  Therefore  he  who  has  not  lost  the  bridle  of 
reason,  governs  himself  cautiously  and  observes  time  and  place, 
and  abstains  when  needful  from  such  intent  gazing,  sweetest 
food  though  it  be;  for  an  open  love  is  too  difficult  a  thing." 

67.— Count  Ludovico  replied: 

"  Sometimes  even  openness  does  no  harm,  for  in  this  case  men 
often  think  such  a  love  affair  is  not  tending  to  the  end  which 
every  lover  desires,  seeing  that  little  care  is  taken  to  hide  it,  nor 
any  heed  given  whether  it  be  known  or  not;  and  so,  by  not  deny- 
ing it,  a  man  wins  a  certain  freedom  that  enables  him  to  speak 
openly  with  his  beloved  and  to  be  with  her  without  suspicion; 
which  those  do  not  win  who  try  to  be  secret,  because  they  seem 
to  hope  for  and  to  be  near  some  great  reward  that  they  would 
not  have  others  discover. 

"  Moreover  I  have  often  seen  very  ardent  love  spring  up  in  a 
woman's  heart  towards  a  man  for  whom  she  had  at  first  not  had 
the  least  affection,  simply  from  hearing  that  many  deemed  them 
to  be  in  love;  and  I  think  the  reason  of  this  was  because  such  an 
universal  opinion  as  that  seemed  to  her  sufficient  proof  to  make 
her  believe  the  man  worthy  of  her  love,  and  it  seemed  as  if 
report  brought  her  messages  from  the  lover  much  truer  and 
worthier  of  belief  than  he  himself  could  have  sent  by  letters  and 
words,  or  another  for  him. 

"  Thus,  this  public  report  not  only  sometimes  does  no  harm, 
but  helps." 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Love  affairs  that  have  report  for  their  minister  put  a  man  in 
great  danger  of  being  pointed  at  with  the  finger;  and  hence  he 
who  would  travel  this  road  safely,  must  feign  to  have  less  fire 
within  him  than  he  has,  and  content  himself  with  that  which 
seems  little  to  him,  and  conceal  his  desires,  jealousies,  griefs  and 
joys,  and  often  laugh  with  his  mouth  when  his  heart  is  weeping, 
and  feign  to  be  prodigal  of  that  whereof  he  most  is  chary;  and 



these  things  are  so  difficult  to  do,  that  they  are  almost  impos- 
sible. Therefore  if  our  Courtier  would  follow  my  advice,  I 
should  exhort  him  to  keep  his  love  affairs  secret." 

68.— Then  messer  Bernardo  said: 

"  There  is  need,  then,  for  you  to  teach  him  how,  and  methinks 
it  is  of  no  small  importance;  for,  besides  the  signals  which  men 
sometimes  make  so  covertly  that  almost  without  a  motion  the 
person  whom  they  wish  reads  in  their  face  and  eyes  what  is 
in  their  heart, —  I  have  sometimes  heard  a  long  and  free  love 
talk  between  two  lovers,  of  which,  however,  those  present  could 
understand  clearly  no  details  at  all  or  even  be  sure  that  the  talk 
was  about  love.  And  the  reason  of  this  lay  in  the  speakers'  dis- 
cretion and  precaution;  for  without  showing  any  sign  of  annoy- 
ance at  being  listened  to,  they  whispered  only  those  words  that 
signified,  and  spoke  aloud  the  rest,  which  could  be  construed 
in  different  senses." 

Then  messer  Federico  said: 

"  To  speak  thus  minutely  about  these  precautions  of  secrecy 
would  be  a  journey  into  the  infinite;  hence  I  would  rather  have 
some  little  discussion  as  to  how  the  lover  ought  to  maintain  his 
lady's  favour,  which  seems  to  me  much  more  necessary." 

69.— The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  I  think  that  those  means  which  serve  to  win  it  serve  also 
to  maintain  it;  and  all  this  consists  in  pleasing  the  lady  of  our 
love  without  ever  offending  her.  Wherefore  it  would  be  diffi- 
cult to  give  any  fixed  rule  for  it;  since  in  countless  ways  he 
who  is  not  very  discreet  sometimes  makes  mistakes  that  seem 
little  and  yet  grievously  offend  the  lady's  spirit;  and  this  befalls 
those,  more  than  others,  who  are  overmastered  by  passion:  like 
some  who,  whenever  they  have  means  of  speaking  to  the  lady 
whom  they  love,  lament  and  complain  so  bitterly  and  often  wish 
for  things  that  are  so  impossible,  that  they  become  wearisome 
by  their  very  importunity.  Others,  when  they  are  stung  by  any 
jealousy,  allow  themselves  to  be  so  carried  away  by  their  grief 
that  they  heedlessly  run  into  speaking  evil  of  him  whom  they 
suspect,  and  sometimes  without  fault  either  on  his  part  or  on  the 
lady's,  and  insist  that  she  shall  not  speak  to  him  or  even  turn 
her  eyes  in  the  direction  where  he  is.    And  by  this  behaviour 



they  often  not  only  offend  the  lady,  but  are  the  cause  that  leads 
her  to  love  the  man:  because  the  fear  that  lovers  sometimes 
display  lest  their  lady  forsake  them  for  another,  shows  that  they 
are  conscious  of  being  inferior  to  him  in  merits  and  worth,  and 
with  this  idea  the  lady  is  moved  to  love  him,  and  perceiving  that 
evil  is  said  of  him  to  put  him  out  of  favour,  she  believes  it  not 
although  it  be  true,  and  loves  him  all  the  more." 

70 Then  messer  Cesare  said,  laughing: 

"  I  own  I  am  not  so  wise  that  I  could  abstain  from  speaking 
evil  of  my  rival,  except  you  were  to  teach  me  some  other  better 
means  of  ruining  him." 

My  lord  Magnifico  replied,  laughing: 

"  There  is  a  proverb  which  says  that  when  our  enemy  is  in  the 
water  up  to  the  belt,  we  must  offer  him  our  hand  and  lift  him  out 
of  peril;  but  when  he  is  in  up  to  the  chin,  we  must  set  our  foot 
on  his  head  and  drown  him  outright.  Thus  there  are  some  who 
do  this  with  their  rival,  and  as  long  as  they  have  no  safe  way  of 
ruining  him,  go  about  dissimulating  and  pretend  to  be  rather  his 
friend  than  otherwise;  then  if  an  opportunity  offers — such  that 
they  know  they  can  overwhelm  him  with  certain  ruin  by  saying 
all  manner  of  evil  of  him  (whether  it  be  true  or  false), — they  do 
it  without  mercy,  with  craft,  deception  and  all  the  means  they 
know  how  to  invent. 

"  But  since  it  would  never  please  me  to  have  our  Courtier  use 
any  deceit,  I  would  have  him  deprive  his  rival  of  the  lady's 
favour  by  no  other  craft  than  by  loving  and  serving  her,  and  by 
being  worthy,  valiant,  discreet  and  modest;  in  short,  by  deserv- 
ing her  better  than  his  rival,  and  by  being  in  all  things  wary  and 
prudent,  abstaining  from  all  stupid  follies,  wherein  many  dunces 
fall  and  in  diverse  ways.  For  in  the  past  I  have  known  some 
who  use  Poliphilian  words  in  writing  and  speaking  to  women,'* 
and  so  insist  upon  the  niceties  of  rhetoric,  that  the  women  are 
diffident  of  themselves  and  account  themselves  very  ignorant, 
and  think  each  hour  of  such  discourse  a  thousand  years,  and  rise 
before  the  end.  Others  are  immoderately  boastful.  Others  often 
say  things  that  redound  to  their  own  discredit  and  damage,  like 
some  I  am  wont  to  laugh  at,  who  profess  to  be  in  love  and  some- 
times say  in  the  presence  of  women:  'I  have  never  found  a 


woman  to  love  me;'  and  they  do  not  perceive  that  those  who 
hear  them  at  once  conclude  that  this  can  arise  from  no  other 
reason  than  that  they  deserve  neither  love  nor  the  water  they 
drink,  and  hold  them  for  men  of  slight  account,  and  would  not 
love  them  for  all  the  gold  in  the  world,  thinking  that  to  love 
them  would  be  to  stand  lower  than  all  the  other  women  who 
loved  them  not. 

"  Still  others  are  so  silly  that  for  the  purpose  of  bringing 
odium  upon  some  rival  of  theirs,  they  say  in  the  presence  of 
women:  'So  and  So  is  the  luckiest  man  on  earth;  for  although 
he  is  not  at  all  handsome,  discreet  or  valiant,  and  cannot  do  or 
say  more  than  the  rest,  yet  all  the  women  love  him  and  run  after 
him ; '  and  thus  showing  themselves  to  be  envious  of  the  man's 
good  luck,  they  incite  belief  that  (although  he  shows  himself  to 
be  lovable  in  neither  looks  nor  acts)  he  has  in  him  some  hidden 
quality  for  which  he  deserves  so  many  women's  love;  hence 
those  who  hear  him  thus  spoken  of  are  by  this  belief  even  much 
more  moved  to  love  him." 

71 — Then  Count  Ludovico  laughed,  and  said: 

"  I  assure  you  that  the  discreet  Courtier  will  never  use  these 
stupidities  to  win  favour  with  women." 

Messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  replied: 

"  Nor  yet  that  one  which  was  used  in  my  time  by  a  gentle- 
man of  great  repute,  whose  name  for  the  honour  of  men  I  will 
not  mention." 

My  lady  Duchess  replied: 

"  At  least  tell  what  he  did." 

Messer  Cesare  continued: 

"  Being  loved  by  a  great  lady,  at  her  request  he  came  secretly 
to  the  place  where  she  was;  and  after  he  had  seen  her  and  con- 
versed with  her  as  long  as  she  and  the  time  allowed,  taking  his 
leave  with  many  bitter  tears  and  sighs,  in  token  of  the  extreme 
sorrow  that  he  felt  at  such  a  parting,  he  besought  her  to  keep 
him  continually  in  mind;  and  then  he  added  that  she  ought  to 
pay  his  board  and  lodging,  for  as  he  had  been  invited  by  her,  it 
seemed  to  him  reasonable  that  he  should  be  at  no  charge  for  his 

Then  all  the  ladies  began  to  laugh  and  to  say  that  he  was 



quite  unworthy  to  be  called  a  gentleman ;  and  many  of  the  men 
were  ashamed,  with  that  shame  which  the  man  himself  would 
have  rightly  felt  if  he  had  at  any  time  found  wit  enough  to  be 
conscious  of  such  a  shameful  fault. 

My  lord  Caspar  then  turned  to  messer  Cesare,  and  said: 

"  It  was  better  to  refrain  from  telling  this  thing  for  the  honour 
of  women,  than  to  refrain  for  the  honour  of  men  from  naming 
him;  for  you  can  well  imagine  what  good  judgment  that  great 
lady  had  in  loving  such  a  senseless  animal,  and  also  that  of  the 
many  who  served  her  perhaps  she  had  chosen  this  one  as  the 
most  discreet,  forsaking  and  misliking  men  whose  lackey  he  was 
unworthy  to  be." 

Count  Ludovico  laughed,  and  said: 

"  Who  knows  that  he  was  not  discreet  in  other  things,  and 
failed  only  as  to  board  and  lodging?  But  many  times  men  com- 
mit great  follies  in  their  excessive  love;  and  if  you  will  say  the 
truth,  perhaps  it  has  befallen  you  to  commit  more  than  one." 

72.— Messer  Cesare  replied,  laughing: 

"  By  your  faith,  do  not  expose  our  errours." 

"  Nay,  it  is  necessary  to  expose  them,"  replied  my  lord  Caspar, 
"in  order  that  we  may  know  how  to  correct  them;"  then  he 
added:  "  My  lord  Magnifico,  now  that  the  Courtier  knows  how 
to  win  and  maintain  his  lady's  favour  and  to  deprive  his  rival  of 
it,  you  must  teach  him  how  to  keep  his  love  affairs  secret." 

The  Magnifico  replied: 

"  Methinks  I  have  said  enough;  so  now  choose  someone  else 
to  speak  of  this  secrecy." 

Then  messer  Bernardo  and  all  the  others  began  to  urge  him 
anew;  and  the  Magnifico  said,  laughing: 

"  You  wish  to  tempt  me.  All  of  you  are  too  well  practised  in 
love:  yet  if  you  would  know  more,  go  read  it  in  Ovid." 

"And  how,"  said  messer  Bernardo,  "should  I  hope  that  his 
precepts  are  of  any  service  in  love,  when  he  recommends  and 
says  it  is  a  very  good  thing  that  a  man  should  pretend  to  be 
drunk  in  the  presence  of  the  beloved?*"  See  what  a  fine  way  of 
winning  favour!  And  he  cites  as  a  fine  method  of  making  one's 
love  known  to  a  lady  at  a  banquet,  to  dip  a  finger  in  wine  and 
write  it  on  the  table." '" 



The  Magnifico  replied,  laughing: 

"  In  those  days  it  was  not  amiss." 

"  And  therefore,"  said  messer  Bernardo,  "  since  such  a  filthy 
trick  as  this  was  not  offensive  to  the  men  of  that  time,  we  may 
believe  that  they  did  not  have  so  gentle  a  manner  of  serving 
women  in  love  as  we  have.  But  let  us  not  forsake  our  first  sub- 
ject, of  teaching  how  to  keep  love  secret." 

73.— Then  the  Magnifico  said : 

"  In  my  opinion,  in  order  to  keep  love  secret  it  is  needful  to 
avoid  the  causes  that  make  it  public,  which  are  many;  but  there 
is  one  chief  cause,  which  is  the  wish  to  be  too  secret  and  not 
trust  any  person  whatever.  For  every  lover  desires  to  make 
his  passion  known  to  his  beloved,  and  being  alone  he  is  forced  to 
make  many  more  and  stronger  demonstrations  than  if  he  were 
aided  by  some  loving  and  faithful  friend;  because  the  demonstra- 
tions that  the  lover  himself  makes  arouse  much  greater  suspicion 
than  those  he  makes  through  intermediaries.  And  since  the 
human  mind  is  naturally  curious  to  find  things  out,  as  soon  as  a 
stranger  begins  to  suspect,  he  employs  such  diligence  that  he 
learns  the  truth,  and  having  learned  it,  makes  no  scruple  to  pub- 
lish it — nay,  sometimes  delights  to  do  so;  which  is  not  the  case 
with  a  friend,  who  besides  helping  with  comfort  and  advice,  often 
repairs  those  mistakes  which  the  blind  lover  commits,  and  always 
contrives  secrecy  and  provides  for  many  things  for  which  he 
himself  cannot  provide.  Moreover  very  great  relief  is  felt  in 
telling  our  passion  and  unburdening  it  to  a  trusty  friend,  and  like- 
wise it  greatly  enhances  our  joys  to  be  able  to  impart  them." 

74-— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  Another  cause  discloses  love  more  than  this." 

"  And  what  is  it?"  replied  the  Magnifico. 

My  lord  Gaspar  continued: 

"  The  vain  ambition  joined  with  madness  and  cruelty  of 
women ;  who,  as  you  yourself  have  said,  try  to  have  as  great  a 
number  of  lovers  as  they  can,  and  if  it  were  possible  would  have 
all  of  these  burn  and  (once  made  ashes)  after  death  return  alive 
to  die  once  more.  And  even  although  they  be  in  love,  still  they 
delight  in  their  lover's  torment,  because  they  think  that  pain  and 
afflictions  and  continual  calling  fpr  death  give  good  proof  that 



they  are  loved,  and  can,  by  their  beauty,  make  men  wretched  and 
happy,  and  bestow  death  and  life,  as  they  please.  Hence  they 
feed  only  on  this  food,  and  are  so  eager  for  it  that  (in  order  not 
to  be  without  it)  they  do  not  satisfy  or  ever  quite  dishearten  their 
lovers;  but  to  keep  these  continually  in  anguish  and  desire,  they 
use  a  certain  domineering  severity  of  threats  mingled  with  en- 
couragement, and  fain  would  have  a  word,  a  look,  a  nod  of  theirs 
esteemed  as  highest  bliss.  And  to  be  deemed  modest  and  chaste, 
not  only  by  their  lovers  but  by  all  the  rest,  they  take  care  to 
make  their  harsh  and  discourteous  behaviour  public,  to  the  end 
that  everyone  may  think  that  if  they  thus  maltreat  those  who 
are  worthy  to  be  loved,  they  must  treat  the  unworthy  much 

"  And  in  this  belief,  thinking  they  thus  have  artfully  made 
themselves  secure  against  infamy,  they  often  spend  every  night 
with  vilest  men  whom  they  scarcely  know ;  and  so,  to  enjoy  the 
calamities  and  continual  laments  of  some  noble  cavalier  whom 
they  love,  they  deny  themselves  those  pleasures  which  they 
might  perhaps  attain  with  some  excuse;  and  they  are  the  cause 
that  forces  the  poor  lover  in  sheer  desperation  to  behaviour 
which  brings  to  light  that  which  every  care  ought  to  be  taken  to 
keep  most  secret. 

"Some  others  there  are,  who,  if  by  trickery  they  succeed  in 
leading  many  a  man  to  think  himself  loved  by  them,  nourish  the 
jealousy  of  each  by  bestowing  caresses  and  favour  on  one  in  the 
presence  of  another;  and  when  they  see  that  he  too  whom  they 
most  love  is  nearly  sure  of  being  loved  because  of  the  demonstra- 
tions shown  him,  they  often  put  him  in  suspense  by  ambiguous 
words  and  pretended  anger,  and  pierce  his  heart,  feigning  to  care 
nothing  for  him  and  to  wish  to  give  themselves  wholly  to  another; 
whence  arise  hatreds,  enmities  and  countless  scandals  and  mani- 
fest ruin,  for  in  such  a  case  a  man  must  show  the  passion  that 
he  feels,  even  though  it  result  in  blame  and  infamy  to  the  lady. 

"Others,  not  content  with  this  single  torment  of  jealousy,  after 
the  lover  has  given  all  proofs  of  love  and  faithful  service,  and 
after  they  have  received  the  same  with  some  sign  of  returning  it 
with  good  will,  they  begin  to  draw  back  without  cause  and  when 
it  is  least  expected,  and  pretend  to  believe  that  he  has  grown 



lukewarm,  and  feigning  new  suspicions  that  they  are  not  loved, 
they  give  sign  of  wishing  to  break  with  him  absolutely.  And  so, 
because  of  these  obstacles,  the  poor  fellow  is  by  very  force  com- 
pelled to  go  back  to  the  start  and  pay  court  as  if  his  service  were 
beginning;  and  daily  to  walk  the  earth,  and  when  the  lady  stirs 
abroad  to  accompany  her  to  church  and  everywhere  she  goes, 
never  to  turn  his  eyes  another  way:  and  now  he  returns  to 
plaints  and  sighs  and  heaviness  of  heart,  and  if  he  can  speak 
with  her,  to  supplications,  blasphemies,  despairings,  and  all  those 
ragings  to  which  unhappy  lovers  are  put  by  these  fierce  monsters, 
who  have  a  greater  thirst  for  blood  than  tigers  have. 

75 "Such  woeful  demonstrations  as  these  are  but  too  much  seen 

and  known,  and  often  more  by  others  than  by  her  who  occasions 
them;  and  thus  in  a  few  days  they  become  so  public  that  not  a 
step  can  be  taken,  nor  the  least  signal  given,  that  is  not  noted  by 
a  thousand  eyes.  Then  it  happens  that  long  before  there  are  any 
sweets  of  love  between  them,  they  are  believed  and  judged  by  all 
the  world;  for  when  women  see  that  the  lover,  now  nigh  to  death 
and  overwhelmed  by  the  cruelty  and  tortures  inflicted  on  him,  is 
firmly  and  really  resolving  to  withdraw,  they  at  once  begin  to 
show  him  that  they  love  him  heartily,  and  to  do  him  all  manner 
of  kindness,  and  to  yield  to  him,  to  the  end  that  (his  ardent  desire 
having  failed)  the  fruits  of  love  may  be  less  sweet  to  him  and  he 
may  have  less  to  thank  them  for,  in  order  to  do  everything  amiss. 

"And  their  love  being  now  very  well  known,  at  the  same  time 
all  the  results  that  proceed  from  it  are  also  very  well  known; 
thus  the  women  are  dishonoured,  and  the  lover  finds  that  he  has 
lost  time  and  pains  and  has  shortened  his  life  in  sorrows,  without 
the  least  advantage  or  pleasure;  for  he  attained  his  desires,  not 
when  they  would  have  made  him  very  happy  with  their  pleas- 
antness, but  when  he  cared  little  or  nothing  for  them,  because 
his  heart  was  ialready  so  deadened  by  his  cruel  passion  that 
it  had  no  feeling  left  wherewith  to  enjoy  the  delight  or  content- 
ment which  was  offered  him." 

76.— Then  my  lord  Ottaviano  said,  laughing: 

"  You  held  your  peace  awhile  and  refrained  from  saying 
evil  of  women;  then  you  hit  them  so  hard  that  it  seems  as  if  you 
were  gathering  strength,  like  those  who  draw  back  in  order 



to  strike  the  harder;  and  verily  you  are  in  the  wrong  and  ought 
henceforth  to  be  gentler." 

My  lady  Emilia  laughed,  and  turning  to  my  lady  Duchess, 

"  You  see,  my  Lady,  that  our  adversaries  are  beginning  to 
quarrel  and  differ  among  themselves." 

"  Call  me  not  so,"  replied  my  lord  Ottaviano,  "  for  I  am  not 
your  adversary.  This  contest  has  displeased  me  much,  not 
because  I  was  sorry  to  see  the  victory  in  favour  of  women,  but 
because  it  has  led  my  lord  Caspar  to  revile  them  more  than 
he  ought,  and  my  lord  Magnifico  and  messer  Cesare  to  praise 
them  perhaps  a  little  more  than  their  due;  besides  which,  owing 
to  the  length  of  the  discussion,  we  have  missed  hearing  many 
other  fine  things  that  remained  to  say  about  the  Courtier." 

"  You  see,"  said  my  lady  Emilia,  "  that  you  are  our  adversary 
after  all;  and  for  that  reason  you  are  displeased  with  the  late 
discussion,  and  fain  would  not  have  had  so  excellent  a  Court 
Lady  described;  not  because  you  had  anything  more  to  say 
about  the  Courtier  (for  these  gentlemen  have  said  all  they  knew, 
and  I  think  that  neither  you  nor  anyone  else  could  add  anything 
whatever),  but  because  of  the  envy  that  you  have  of  women's 

77-—"  Certain  it  is,"  replied  my  lord  Ottaviano,  "  that  besides 
the  things  that  have  been  said  about  the  Courtier,  I  should  like 
to  hear  many  others.  Still,  since  everyone  is  content  to  have 
him  as  he  is,  I  also  am  content;  nor  should  I  change  him  in 
aught  else,  unless  in  making  him  a  little  more  friendly  to  women 
than  my  lord  Caspar  is,  albeit  perhaps  not  so  much  so  as  some 
of  these  other  gentlemen," 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"  By  all  means  we  must  see  whether  your  talents  are  so  great 
that  they  can  give  the  Courtier  greater  perfection  than  these 
gentlemen  have  given  him.  So  please  to  say  what  you  have  in 
mind:  else  we  shall  think  that  even  you  cannot  add  anything  to 
what  has  been  said,  but  that  you  wished  to  detract  from  the 
praises  of  the  Court  Lady  because  you  think  her  the  equal  of  the 
Courtier,  who  you  would  therefore  have  us  believe  could  be 
much  more  perfect  than  these  gentlemen  have  described  him." 


My  lord  Ottaviano  laughed,  and  said: 

"The  praise  and  censure  that  have  been  bestowed  on  women 
beyond  their  due  have  so  filled  the  ears  and  mind  of  the  com- 
pany as  to  leave  no  room  for  anything  else  to  lodge;  besides 
this,  in  my  opinion  the  hour  is  very  late." 

"Then,"  said  my  lady  Duchess,  "we  shall  have  more  time  by 
w^aiting  till  to-morrow;  and  meanwhile  this  praise  and  censure, 
which  you  say  have  been  on  both  sides  bestowed  excessively  on 
women,  will  leave  these  gentlemen's  minds,  and  thus  they  will 
better  appreciate  that  truth  which  you  will  tell  them." 

So  saying,  my  lady  Duchess  rose  to  her  feet,  and  courteously 
dismissing  the  company,  retired  to  her  more  private  room,  and 
everyone  went  to  rest. 




1.— Thinking  to  write  out  the  discussions  that  were  held  on  the 
fourth  evening,  after  those  mentioned  in  the  previous  Books, 
among  various  reflections  I  feel  one  bitter  thought  that  strikes 
my  heart,  and  makes  me  mindful  of  human  miseries  and  our 
deceptive  hopes:  and  how  fortune,  often  in  mid-course  and  some- 
times near  the  end,  shatters  our  frail  and  vain  designs,  and  some- 
times wrecks  them  before  the  haven  can  be  even  seen  afar. 

Thus  I  recall  that  not  long  after  these  discussions  took  place, 
importunate  death  deprived  our  court  of  three  very  rare  gentle- 
men while  they  were  in  the  flower  of  robust  health  and  hope  of 
honour.  And  of  these  the  first  was  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino, 
who  being  assailed  by  an  acute  disease  and  more  than  once 
brought  low,  although  his  courage  was  of  such  vigour  that  for  a 
season  it  held  spirit  and  body  together  in  spite  of  death,  yet 
ended  his  natural  course  far  before  his  time;*'''  a  very  great  loss 
not  only  to  our  court  and  to  his  friends  and  family,  but  to  his 
native  land  and  to  all  Lombardy. 

Not  long  afterwards  died  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga,  who  to  all 
those  who  had  acquaintance  with  him  left  a  bitter  and  painful 
memory  of  his  death;***  for  since  nature  produces  such  men  as 
rarely  as  she  does,  it  seemed  only  fitting  that  she  should  not  so 
soon  deprive  us  of  this  one:  because  it  certainly  may  be  said  that 
messer  Cesare  was  carried  off  just  when  he  was  beginning  to 
give  something  more  than  promise  of  himself,  and  to  be  esteemed 
as  his  admirable  qualities  deserved;  for  already,  by  many  meri- 
torious efforts  he  had  given  good  proof  of  his  worth,  which  shone 
forth  not  only  in  noble  birth,  but  also  in  the  ornament  of  letters 
and  of  arms,  and  in  every  kind  of  laudable  behaviour;  so  that, 
by  reason  of  his  goodness,  capacity,  courage  and  wisdom,  there 
was  nothing  so  great  that  it  might  not  be  expected  from  him. 



No  long  time  passed  before  the  death  of  messer  Roberto  da 
Bari  also  inflicted  deep  sorrow  upon  the  whole  court;'"  for  it 
seemed  reasonable  that  everyone  should  lament  the  death  of  a 
youth  of  good  behaviour,  agreeable,  fair  of  aspect,  and  of  very 
rare  personal  grace,  and  of  as  stout  and  sturdy  temper  as  could 
be  wished. 

2.— If,  then,  these  men  had  lived,  I  think  they  would  have 
reached  such  eminence  that  they  would  have  been  able  to  give 
everyone  who  knew  them  clear  proof  how  worthy  the  court  of 
Urbino  was  of  praise,  and  how  adorned  with  noble  cavaliers; 
which  nearly  all  the  others  have  done  who  were  reared  there. 
For  verily  the  Trojan  Horse  did  not  send  forth  so  many  lords 
and  captains  as  this  court  has  sent  forth  men  singular  in  worth 
and  most  highly  prized  by  everyone.  Thus,  as  you  know, 
messer  Federico  Fregoso  was  made  Archbishop  of  Salerno; 
Count  Ludovico,  Bishop  of  Bayeux;  my  lord  Ottaviano,  Doge 
of  Genoa;  messer  Bernardo  Bibbiena,  Cardinal  of  Santa  Maria 
in  Portico;  messer  Pietro  Bembo,  secretary  to  Pope  Leo;  my 
lord  Magnifico  rose  to  the  dukedom  of  Nemours  and  to  that 
greatness  where  he  now  is.  My  lord  Francesco  Maria  della 
Rovere  also.  Prefect  of  Rome,  was  made  Duke  of  Urbino:"' 
albeit  much  higher  praise  may  be  accorded  to  the  court  where 
he  was  nurtured,  because  he  there  became  a  rare  and  excellent 
lord  in  every  quality  of  worth,  as  we  now  see,  than  because  he 
attained  the  dukedom  of  Urbino;  nor  do  I  believe  that  a  small 
cause  of  this  was  the  noble  company  in  whose  daily  converse 
he  always  saw  and  heard  laudable  behaviour. 

However,  it  seems  to  me  that  the  cause,  whether  chance  or 
favour  of  the  stars,  which  has  so  long  granted  excellent  lords  to 
Urbino,  still  continues  and  produces  the  same  results;  and  hence 
we  may  hope  that  fair  fortune  must  further  so  bless  these  good 
works,  that  the  welfare  of  the  house  and  state  shall  not  only  not 
wane  but  rather  wax  from  day  to  day:  and  of  this  many  bright 
auguries  are  already  to  be  seen,  among  which  I  esteem  the  chief 
to  be  Heaven's  bestowal  of  such  a  mistress  as  is  my  lady  Eleanora 
Gonzaga,  the  new  Duchess;"'  for  if  ever  in  a  single  body  there 
were  joined  wisdom,  grace,  beauty,  capacity,  tact,  humanity,  and 
every  other  gentle  quality, —  in  her  they  are  so  united  that  they 


^£^.''h  *    -*^  ■' 

/ 1^  ^'.V'-^lk'.Kfei'^ifr  \^  J -f^t  %K.  k>c^^^ 




Reduced  from  Brauo's  photograph  (no.  40.605)  of  the  portrait,  in  the  Uffiii  Gallery  at 
Florence,  by  Titian  (1477-  1576). 


form  a  chain  which  completes  and  adorns  her  every  movement 
with  all  these  qualities  at  once. 

Let  us  now  continue  the  discussion  about  our  Courtier,  in  the 
hope  that  after  us  there  ought  to  be  no  lack  of  those  who  will 
find  bright  and  honoured  examples  of  worth  in  the  present  court 
of  Urbino,  just  as  we  now  do  in  that  of  bygone  times. 

3-— It  seemed,  then,  as  my  lord  Caspar  Pallavicino  used  to 
relate,  that  the  following  day  after  the  discussions  contained  in 
the  preceding  Book,  little  was  seen  of  my  lord  Ottaviano;  hence 
many  thought  that  he  had  retired  in  order  that  he  might  without 
hindrance  think  carefully  of  what  he  had  to  say.  Thus,  the 
company  having  betaken  themselves  to  my  lady  Duchess  at  the 
accustomed  hour,  search  had  to  be  made  far  and  wide  for  my 
lord  Ottaviano,  who  did  not  appear  for  a  good  space;  so  that 
many  cavaliers  and  maids  of  honour  of  the  court  began  to  dance 
and  engage  in  other  pastimes,  thinking  that  for  that  evening 
there  would  be  no  more  talk  about  the  Courtier.  And  indeed  all 
were  busied,  some  with  one  thing  and  some  with  another,  when 
my  lord  Ottaviano  arrived,  after  he  had  almost  been  given  up; 
and  seeing  that  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  and  my  lord  Caspar 
were  dancing,  he  bowed  to  my  lady  Duchess  and  said,  laughing: 

"  I  quite  expected  to  hear  my  lord  Caspar  say  some  evil 
about  women  again  this  evening;  but  seeing  him  dance  with  one, 
I  think  that  he  has  made  his  peace  with  all  of  them;  and  I  am 
glad  that  the  dispute  (or  rather  the  discussion)  about  the  Courtier 
has  ended  thus." 

"  It  is  by  no  means  ended,"  replied  my  lady  Duchess;  "for  I 
am  no  such  enemy  of  men  as  you  are  of  women,  and  therefore  I 
am  unwilling  that  the  Courtier  should  be  deprived  of  his  due 
honour,  and  of  those  ornaments  that  you  promised  him  last  even- 
ing;" and  so  saying,  she  directed  that  as  soon  as  the  dance  was 
finished,  everyone  should  sit  down  in  the  usual  order,  which  was 
done;  and  when  all  were  giving  close  attention,  my  lord  Otta- 
viano said: 

"  My  Lady,  since  my  wish  to  have  the  Courtier  possess  many 

other  good  qualities  is  taken  as  a  promise  to  tell  what  they  are, 

I  am  content  to  speak  about  them,  not  with  any  hope  of  saying 

all  that  might  be  said,  but  merely  enough  to  clear  your  mind  of 



the  charge  that  was  made  against  me  last  evening,  to  wit:  that 
I  spoke  as  I  did  rather  for  the  purpose  of  detracting  from  the 
Court  Lady's  praises  (by  raising  a  false  belief  that  other  excel- 
lences can  be  ascribed  to  the  Courtier,  and  by  thus  artfully  mak- 
ing him  her  superior),  than  because  what  I  said  was  true. 
Wherefore,  to  adapt  myself  to  the  hour,  which  is  later  than  it  is 
wont  to  be  when  we  begin  our  discussions,  I  shall  be  brief. 

4 — "  So,  to  pursue  these  gentlemen's  discourse,  which  I  wholly 
approve  and  confirm,  I  say  that  of  the  things  that  we  call  good, 
there  are  some  which  simply  and  in  themselves  are  always  good, 
like  temperance,  fortitude,  health,  and  all  the  virtues  that  bestow 
tranquillity  upon  the  mind;  others,  which  are  good  in  various 
respects  and  for  the  object  to  which  they  tend,  like  law,  liberal- 
ity, riches,  and  other  like  things.  Hence  I  think  that  the  perfect 
Courtier,  such  as  Count  Ludovico  and  messer  Federico  have  de- 
scribed, may  be  a  truly  good  thing  and  worthy  of  praise,  not 
however  simply  and  in  himself,  but  in  respect  to  the  end  to  which 
he  may  be  directed.  For  indeed  if  by  being  nobly  born,  graceful, 
agreeable,  and  expert  in  so  many  exercises,  the  Courtier  brought 
forth  no  other  fruit  than  merely  being  what  he  is,  I  should  not 
deem  it  right  for  a  man  to  devote  so  much  study  and  pains  to 
acquiring  this  perfection  of  Courtiership,  as  anyone  must  who 
wishes  to  attain  it.  Nay,  I  should  say  that  many  of  those  accom- 
plishments that  have  been  ascribed  to  him  (like  dancing,  merry- 
making, singing  and  playing)  were  follies  and  vanities,  and  in  a 
man  of  rank  worthy  rather  of  censure  than  of  praise:  for  these 
elegances,  devices,  mottoes,  and  other  like  things  that  pertain  to 
discourse  about  women  and  love,  although  perhaps  many  other 
men  think  the  contrary,  often  serve  only  to  effeminate  the  mind, 
to  corrupt  youth,  and  to  reduce  it  to  great  wantonness  of  living; 
whence  then  it  comes  to  pass  that  the  Italian  name  is  brought 
into  opprobrium,  and  but  few  are  to  be  found  who  dare,  I  will 
not  say  to  die,  but  even  to  run  into  danger. 

"  And  surely  there  are  countless  other  things,  which,  if  industry 
and  study  were  spent  upon  them,  would  be  of  much  greater 
utility  in  both  peace  and  war  than  this  kind  of  Courtiership  in 
itself  merely;  but  if  the  Courtier's  actions  are  directed  to  that 
good  end  to  which  they  ought,  and  which  I  have  in  mind, 



methinks  they  are  not  only  not  harmful  or  vain,  but  very  useful 
and  deserving  of  infinite  praise. 

5-—"  I  think  then  that  the  aim  of  the  perfect  Courtier,  which 
has  not  been  spoken  of  till  now,  is  so  to  win  for  himself,  by 
means  of  the  accomplishments  ascribed  to  him  by  these  gentle- 
men, the  favour  and  mind  of  the  prince  whom  he  serves,  that  he 
may  be  able  to  say,  and  always  shall  say,  the  truth  about  every- 
thing which  it  is  fitting  for  the  prince  to  know,  without  fear  or 
risk  of  giving  offence  thereby;  and  that  when  he  sees  his  prince's 
mind  inclined  to  do  something  wrong,  he  may  be  quick  to  oppose, 
and  gently  to  make  use  of  the  favour  acquired  by  his  good 
accomplishments,  so  as  to  banish  every  bad  intent  and  lead  his 
prince  into  the  path  of  virtue.  And  thus,  possessing  the  good- 
ness which  these  gentlemen  have  described,  together  with  readi- 
ness of  wit  and  pleasantness,  and  shrewdness  and  knowledge  of 
letters  and  many  other  things, — the  Courtier  will  in  every  case 
be  able  deftly  to  show  the  prince  how  much  honour  and  profit 
accrue  to  him  and  his  from  justice,  liberality,  magnanimity,  gen- 
tleness, and  the  other  virtues  that  become  a  good  prince;  and  on 
the  other  hand  how  much  infamy  and  loss  proceed  from  the 
vices  opposed  to  them.  Therefore  I  think  that  just  as  music, 
festivals,  games,  and  the  other  pleasant  accomplishments  are  as 
it  were  the  flower,  in  like  manner  to  lead  or  help  one's  prince 
towards  right,  and  to  frighten  him  from  wrong,  are  the  true  fruit 
of  Courtiership. 

"And  since  the  merit  of  well-doing  lies  chiefly  in  two  things, 
one  of  which  is  the  choice  of  an  end  for  our  intentions  that  shall 
be  truly  good,  and  the  other  ability  to  find  means  suitable  and 
fitting  to  conduce  to  that  good  end  marked  out, —  certain  it  is 
that  that  man's  mind  tends  to  the  best  end,  who  purposes  to  see 
to  it  that  his  prince  shall  be  deceived  by  no  one,  shall  hearken  not 
to  flatterers  or  to  slanderers  and  liars,  and  shall  distinguish  good 
and  evil,  and  love  the  one  and  hate  the  other. 

6 — "  Methinks,  too,  that  the  accomplishments  ascribed  to  the 
Courtier  by  these  gentlemen  may  be  a  good  means  of  arriving 
at  that  end;  and  this  because  among  the  many  faults  which 
to-day  we  see  in  many  of  our  princes,  the  greatest  are  ignorance 
and  self-esteem.  And  the  root  of  these  two  evils  is  none  other 


than  falsehood:  which  vice  is  deservedly  hateful  to  God  and  to 
men,  and  more  injurious  to  princes  than  any  other;  because  they 
have  greatest  lack  of  that  whereof  they  most  need  to  have 
abundance — I  mean  of  someone  to  tell  them  the  truth  and  to  put 
them  in  mind  of  what  is  right:  for  their  enemies  are  not  moved 
by  love  to  perform  these  offices,  but  are  well  pleased  to  have 
them  live  wickedly  and  never  correct  themselves;  on  the  other 
hand,  their  enemies  dare  not  accuse  them  openly,  for  fear  of  being 
punished.  Then  of  their  friends  there  are  few  who  have  free 
access  to  them,  and  those  few  are  chary  of  censuring  them 
for  their  errours  as  freely  as  in  the  case  of  private  persons,  and 
to  win  grace  and  favour  often  think  of  nothing  but  how  to 
suggest  things  that  may  delight  and  please  their  fancy,  al- 
though the  same  be  evil  and  dishonourable;  thus  from  being 
friends  these  men  become  flatterers,  and  to  derive  profit  from 
their  intimacy,  always  speak  and  act  complaisantly,  and  for  the 
most  part  make  their  way  by  means  of  falsehoods,  which  beget 
ignorance  in  the  prince's  mind,  not  only  of  outward  things  but  of 
himself;  and  this  may  be  said  to  be  the  greatest  and  most 
monstrous  falsehood  of  all,  for  the  ignorant  mind  deceives  itself 
and  lies  inwardly  to  itself, 

7-—"  From  this  it  follows  that,  besides  never  hearing  the  truth 
about  anything  whatever,  rulers  are  intoxicated  by  that  licence 
which  dominion  carries  with  it,  and  by  the  abundance  of  their 
enjoyments  are  drowned  in  pleasures,  and  so  deceive  themselves 
and  have  their  minds  so  corrupted, —  always  finding  themselves 
obeyed  and  almost  adored  with  such  reverence  and  praise,  with- 
out the  least  censure  or  even  contradiction, — that  from  this 
ignorance  they  pass  to  boundless  self-esteem,  so  that  they  then 
brook  no  advice  or  persuasion  from  others.  And  since  they 
think  that  to  know  how  to  rule  is  a  very  easy  thing,  and  that  to 
succeed  therein  they  need  no  other  art  or  training  than  mere 
force,  they  bend  their  mind  and  all  their  thoughts  to  the  main- 
tenance of  that  power  which  they  have,  esteeming  that  true 
felicity  lies  in  being  able  to  do  what  one  likes. 

"  Therefore  some  princes  hate  reason  and  justice,  thinking  that 
it  would  be  a  kind  of  bridle  and  a  means  of  reducing  them  to 
bondage,  and  of  lessening  the  pleasure  and  satisfaction  which 



they  have  in  ruling,  if  they  were  willing  to  follow  it;  and  that 
their  dominion  would  not  be  perfect  or  complete  if  they  were 
constrained  to  obey  duty  and  honour,  because  they  think  that  he 
who  obeys  is  no  true  ruler.  Therefore,  following  these  principles 
and  allowing  themselves  to  be  transported  by  self-esteem,  they 
become  arrogant,  with  haughty  looks  and  stern  behaviour,  with 
splendid  dress,  gold  and  gems,  and  by  letting  themselves  be 
almost 'never  seen  in  public  they  think  to  win  authority  among 
men  and  to  be  held  almost  as  gods.  And  to  my  thinking  they 
are  like  the  colossi  that  last  year  were  made  at  Rome  the  day  of 
the  festival  in  the  Piazza  d'Agone,*''  which  outwardly  showed 
a  likeness  to  great  men  and  horses  in  a  triumph,  and  within 
were  full  of  tow  and  rags.  But  princes  of  this  sort  are  much 
worse,  in  that  the  colossi  keep  upright  merely  by  their  great 
weight;  while  the  princes,  since  they  are  ill  balanced  within  and 
placed  haphazard  on  uneven  bases,  fall  to  their  ruin  by  reason 
of  their  own  weight,  and  from  one  errour  run  into  many;  for 
their  ignorance,  together  with  the  false  belief  that  they  can- 
not err  and  that  the  power  which  they  have  proceeds  from  their 
own  wisdom,  leads  them  to  seize  states  boldly  by  fair  means  or 
foul,  whenever  they  can. 

8 — "  But  if  they  were  resolved  to  know  and  to  do  that  which 
they  ought,  they  would  be  as  set  on  not  ruling  as  they  are  set 
on  ruling;  for  they  would  perceive  how  monstrous  and  per- 
nicious a  thing  it  is  when  subjects,  who  are  to  be  governed,  are 
wiser  than  the  princes  who  are  to  govern. 

"  You  see  that  ignorance  of  music,  of  dancing,  of  horseman- 
ship, is  not  harmful  to  any  man;  nevertheless,  he  who  is  no 
musician  is  ashamed  and  dares  not  sing  in  the  presence  of 
others,  or  dance  if  he  knows  not  how,  or  ride  if  he  has  not  a 
good  seat.  But  from  not  knowing  how  to  govern  people  there 
spring  so  many  woes,  deaths,  destructions,  burnings,  ruins, — 
that  it  may  be  said  to  be  the  deadliest  pest  that  is  to  be  found  on 
earth.  And  yet  some  princes  who  are  very  ignorant  of  govern- 
ment are  not  ashamed  to  undertake  to  govern,  I  will  not  say 
in  the  presence  of  four  or  of  six  men,  but  before  all  the  world,  for 
their  rank  is  set  so  high  that  all  eyes  gaze  on  them,  and  hence 
not  only  their  great  but  their  least  defects  are  always  noted. 


Thus  it  is  written  that  Cimon  was  accused  of  loving  wine,  Scipio 
of  loving  sleep,  Lucullus  of  loving  feasts.*"  But  would  to  God 
that  the  princes  of  our  time  might  couple  their  sins  with  as 
many  virtues  as  did  those  ancients;  who,  although  they  erred  in 
some  respects,  yet  did  not  avoid  the  reminders  and  advice 
of  anyone  who  seemed  to  them  competent  to  correct  those 
errours,  but  rather  sought  with  all  solicitude  to  order  their  lives 
after  the  precepts  of  excellent  men:  as  Epaminondas  after  that 
of  Lysis  the  Pythagorean,**'  Agesilaus  after  that  of  Xenophon, 
Scipio  after  that  of  Panaetius,  and  countless  others.*"" 

"  But  if  some  of  our  princes  were  to  happen  upon  a  stern 
philosopher  or  any  man  who  was  willing  openly  and  artlessly  to 
show  them  the  frightful  face  of  true  virtue,  and  to  teach  them 
what  good  behaviour  is  and  what  a  good  prince's  life  ought  to 
be,  I  am  certain  that  they  would  loathe  him  like  an  asp,  or  in 
sooth  deride  him  as  a  thing  most  vile. 

9-—"  I  say,  then,  that  since  princes  are  to-day  so  corrupted  by 
evil  customs  and  by  ignorance  and  mistaken  self-esteem,  and 
since  it  is  so  difficult  to  give  them  knowledge  of  the  truth  and 
lead  them  on  to  virtue,  and  since  men  seek  to  enter  into  their 
favour  by  lies  and  flatteries  and  such  vicious  means, — the  Cour- 
tier, by  the  aid  of  those  gentle  qualities  that  Count  Ludovico  and 
messer  Federico  have  given  him,  can  with  ease  and  should  try 
to  gain  the  good  will  and  so  charm  the  mind  of  his  prince,  that 
he  shall  win  free  and  safe  indulgence  to  speak  of  everything 
without  being  irksome.  And  if  he  be  such  as  has  been  said,  he 
will  accomplish  this  with  little  trouble,  and  thus  be  able  always 
to  disclose  the  truth  about  all  things  with  ease;  and  also  to  instil 
goodness  into  his  prince's  mind  little  by  little,  and  to  teach  con- 
tinence, fortitude,  justice,  temperance,  by  giving  a  taste  of  how 
much  sweetness  is  hidden  by  the  little  bitterness  that  at  first 
sight  appears  to  him  who  withstands  vice;  which  is  always 
hurtful  and  displeasing,  and  accompanied  by  infamy  and  blame, 
just  as  virtue  is  profitable,  blithe  and  full  of  praise.  And  thereto 
he  will  be  able  to  incite  his  prince  by  the  example  of  the  famous 
captains  and  other  eminent  men  to  whom  the  ancients  were 
wont  to  make  statues  of  bronze  and  of  marble  and  sometimes  of 
gold,  and  to  erect  the  same  in  public  places,  both  for  the  honour 



of  these  men  and  as  a  stimulus  to  others,  so  that  they  might 
be  led  by  worthy  emulation  to  strive  to  reach  that  glory  too. 

10.—"  In  this  way  the  Courtier  will  be  able  to  lead  his  prince 
along  the  thorny  path  of  virtue,  decking  it  as  with  shady  leafage 
and  strewing  it  with  lovely  flowers  to  relieve  the  tedium  of  the 
weary  journey  to  one  whose  strength  is  slight;  and  now  with 
music,  now  with  arms  and  horses,  now  with  verses,  now  with 
love  talk,  and  with  all  those  means  whereof  these  gentlemen 
have  told,  to  keep  his  mind  continually  busied  with  worthy 
pleasures,  yet  always  impressing  upon  him  also,  as  I  have  said, 
some  virtuous  practice  along  with  these  allurements,  and  play- 
ing upon  him  with  salutary  craft;  like  cunning  doctors,  who 
often  anoint  the  edge  of  the  cup  with  a  sweet  cordial,  when  they 
wish  to  give  some  bitter-tasting  medicine  to  sick  and  over- 
delicate  children. 

"  If,  therefore,  the  Courtier  put  the  veil  of  pleasure  to  such 
a  use,  he  will  reach  his  aim  in  every  time  and  place  and  exer- 
cise, and  will  deserve  much  greater  praise  and  reward  than  for 
any  other  good  work  that  he  could  do  in  the  world.  For  there  is 
no  good  thing  that  is  of  such  universal  advantage  as  a  good 
prince,  nor  any  evil  so  universally  noxious  as  a  bad  prince: 
hence,  too,  there  is  no  punishment  so  harsh  and  cruel  as  to  be  a 
sufficient  penalty  for  those  wicked  courtiers  who  use  their  gentle 
and  pleasant  ways  and  fine  accomplishments  to  a  bad  end,  and 
therewith  seek  their  prince's  favour,  in  order  to  corrupt  him  and 
entice  him  from  the  path  of  virtue  and  lead  him  into  vice;  for 
such  as  these  may  be  said  to  taint  with  deadly  poison  not  a 
single  cup  from  which  one  man  alone  must  drink,  but  the  public 
fountain  used  by  all  men," 

II.— My  lord  Ottaviano  was  silent,  as  if  he  did  not  wish  to  say 
more;  but  my  lord  Caspar  said: 

"  It  does  not  seem  to  me,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  that  this  right- 
mindedness  and  continence,  and  the  other  virtues  which  you  wish 
the  Courtier  to  show  his  lord,  can  be  learned;  but  I  think  that 
the  men  who  have  them  are  given  them  by  nature  and  by  God. 
And  that  this  is  true,  you  see  that  there  is  no  man  in  the  world 
so  wicked  and  ill  conditioned,  or  so  intemperate  and  perverse,  as 
to  confess  that  he  is  so  when  he  is  asked;  nay,  everyone,  how- 



ever  wicked  he  be,  has  pleasure  in  being  deemed  just,  continent 
and  good:  which  would  not  be  the  case  if  these  virtues  could  be 
learned;  for  it  is  no  disgrace  not  to  know  that  to  which  one  has 
given  no  study,  but  it  seems  a  reproach  indeed  not  to  have  that 
wherewith  we  ought  to  be  adorned  by  nature.  Hence  everyone 
tries  to  hide  his  natural  defects  both  of  mind  and  of  body  too; 
which  is  seen  in  the  blind,  the  halt  and  the  crooked,  and  in 
others  who  are  maimed  or  ugly;  for  although  these  imperfections 
may  be  ascribed  to  nature,  still  everyone  dislikes  to  be  sensible 
of  them  in  himself,  because  he  seems  by  nature's  own  testimony 
to  have  that  defect  as  it  were  for  a  seal  and  token  of  his  wicked- 

"  Moreover  my  opinion  is  confirmed  by  that  story  which  is 
told  of  Epimetheus,  who  knew  so  ill  how  to  distribute  the  gifts 
of  nature  among  men  that  he  left  them  much  poorer  in  every- 
thing than  all  other  creatures:  wherefore  Prometheus  stole  from 
Minerva  and  from  Vulcan  that  artful  cunning  whereby  men  find 
the  means  of  living;"'  but  still  they  did  not  have  the  civic  cunning 
to  gather  together  in  cities  and  live  orderly  lives,  for  this  was 
guarded  in  Jove's  castle  by  very  watchful  warders,  who  so 
frightened  Prometheus  that  he  dared  not  approach  them;  where- 
fore Jove  had  compassion  for  the  misery  of  men,  who  were  torn 
by  wild  beasts  because  they  could  not  stand  together  for  lack  of 
civic  faculty,  and  sent  Mercury  to  earth  to  bring  them  justice 
and  shame,  to  the  end  that  these  two  things  might  adorn  their 
cities  and  unite  the  citizens.  And  he  saw  fit  that  they  should 
not  be  given  to  men  like  the  other  arts,  wherein  one  expert  suf- 
fices for  many  ignorant  (as  in  the  case  of  medicine),  but  that 
they  should  be  impressed  upon  each  man;  and  he  ordained  a 
law  that  all  who  were  without  justice  and  shame  should  be  ex- 
terminated and  put  to  death  like  public  pests.  So  you  see,  my 
lord  Ottaviano,  that  these  virtues  are  vouchsafed  by  God  to  men, 
and  are  not  acquired,  but  natural," 

12 Then  my  lord  Ottaviano  said,  smiling: 

"  Do  you  then  insist,  my  lord  Gaspar,  that  men  are  so  unhappy 
and  perverse,  that  they  have  by  industry  discovered  an  art  to 
tame  the  natures  of  wild  beasts,  bears,  wolves,  lions,  and  by  it 
are  able  to  teach  a  pretty  bird  to  fly  whither  they  like,  and  to 



return  willingly  from  its  woods  and  natural  freedom  to  cages 
and  captivity, —  and  yet  that  they  cannot  or  will  not  by  the  same 
industry  find  arts  to  help  themselves  and  improve  their  minds 
with  diligence  and  study  ?  To  my  thinking  this  would  be  as  if 
physicians  were  to  study  with  all  diligence  to  acquire  the  mere 
art  of  healing  sore  nails  and  scurf  in  children,  and  were  to  leave 
off  curing  fevers,  pleurisy  and  other  serious  maladies;  and  how 
out  of  all  reason  this  would  be,  everyone  can  consider. 

"  Therefore  I  think  that  the  moral  virtues  are  not  in  us  by 
nature  wholly,  for  nothing  can  ever  become  used  to  that  which 
is  naturally  contrary  to  it;  as  we  see  in  the  case  of  a  stone, 
which  although  it  were  thrown  upwards  ten  thousand  times 
would  never  become  used  to  move  thither  of  itself;  hence  if 
virtue  were  as  natural  to  us  as  weight  is  to  the  stone,  we  should 
never  become  used  to  vice.  Nor,  on  the  other  hand,  are  the  vices 
natural  in  this  sense,  for  we  should  never  be  able  to  be  virtuous; 
and  it  would  be  too  unfair  and  foolish  to  chastise  men  for  those 
defects  that  proceed  from  nature  without  our  fault;  and  this  errour 
would  be  committed  by  the  law,  which  does  not  inflict  punish- 
ment upon  malefactors  on  account  of  their  past  errour  (since 
what  is  done  can  not  be  undone),  but  has  regard  to  the  future,  to 
the  end  that  he  who  has  erred  may  err  no  more  nor  be  the  cause 
of  others  erring  through  his  bad  example.  And  thus  the  law 
presumes  that  the  virtues  can  be  learned,  which  is  very  true; 
for  we  are  born  capable  of  receiving  them  and  the  vices  also, 
and  hence  custom  creates  in  us  the  habit  of  both  the  one  and  the 
other,  so  that  we  first  practise  virtue  or  vice,  and  then  are  vir- 
tuous or  vicious. 

"  The  contrary  is  observed  in  things  that  are  bestowed  by  na- 
ture, which  we  first  have  the  power  to  practise  and  then  do 
practise:  as  is  the  case  with  the  senses;  for  first  we  are  able  to 
see,  hear  and  touch,  then  we  see,  hear  and  touch,  although  also 
many  of  these  functions  are  perfected  by  training.  'Wherefore 
good  masters  teach  children  not  only  letters,  but  also  good  and 
seemly  manners  in  eating,  drinking,  speaking  and  walking,  with 
certain  appropriate  gestures. 

13.—"  Therefore  as  in  the  other  arts,  so  too  in  virtue  it  is  neces- 
sary to  have  a  master,  who  by  instruction  and  good  reminders 



shall  arouse  and  awake  in  us  those  moral  virtues  whereof  we 
have  the  seed  enclosed  and  buried  in  our  soul,  and  like  a  good 
husbandman  shall  cultivate  them  and  open  the  way  for  them  by 
freeing  us  from  the  thorns  and  tares  of  appetite,  which  often  so 
overshadow  and  choke  our  minds  as  not  to  let  them  blossom  or 
bring  forth  those  happy  fruits  which  alone  we  should  desire  to 
have  spring  up  in  the  human  heart. 

"  In  this  sense,  then,  justice  and  shame,  which  you  say  Jove 
sent  upon  earth  to  all  men,  are  natural  in  each  one  of  us.  But 
just  as  a  body  without  eyes,  however  strong  it  be,  often  fails  if  it 
moves  towards  any  object,  so  the  root  of  these  virtues  potentially 
engendered  in  our  minds  often  comes  to  naught  if  it  be  not 
helped  by  cultivation.  For  if  it  is  to  ripen  into  action  and  per- 
fect character,  nature  alone  is  not  enough,  as  has  been  said,  but 
there  is  need  of  studied  practice  and  of  reason,  to  purify  and 
clear  the  soul  by  lifting  the  dark  veil  of  ignorance,  from  which 
nearly  all  the  errours  of  men  proceed, — because  if  good  and  evil 
were  well  perceived  and  understood,  everyone  would  always 
prefer  good  and  shun  evil.  Thus  virtue  may  almost  be  said  to  be 
a  kind  of  prudence  and  wit  to  prefer  the  good,  and  vice  a  kind  of 
imprudence  and  ignorance  which  lead  us  to  judge  falsely;  for 
men  never  prefer  evil  deeming  it  to  be  evil,  but  are  deceived  by 
a  certain  likeness  that  it  bears  to  good." 

I4-— Then  my  lord  Caspar  replied: 

"  There  are,  however,  many  who  know  well  that  they  are  doing 
evil,  and  yet  do  it;  and  this  because  they  have  more  thought  for 
vhe  present  pleasure  which  they  feel,  than  for  the  chastisement 
which  they  fear  must  come  upon  them:  like  thieves,  homicides, 
and  other  such  men." 

My  lord  Ottaviano  said: 

"  True  pleasure  is  always  good,  and  true  suffering  always  evil; 
therefore  these  men  deceive  themselves  in  taking  false  pleasure 
for  true,  and  true  suffering  for  false;  hence  by  false  pleasures 
they  often  run  into  true  sufferings.  Therefore  that  art  which 
teaches  how  to  discern  the  true  from  the  false,  may  well  be 
learned;  and  the  faculty  whereby  we  choose  that  which  is  truly 
good  and  not  that  which  falsely  seems  so,  may  be  called  true 
wisdom   and   more   profitable  to   human    life  than   any   other, 



because  it  dispels  the  ignorance  from  which,  as  I  have  said,  all 
evils  spring." 

15.— Then  messer  Pietro  Bembo  said: 

"  I  do  not  know,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  whether  my  lord  Gaspar 
ought  to  grant  you  that  all  evils  spring  from  ignorance;  and  that 
there  are  not  many  who  well  know  that  they  are  sinning  when 
they  sin,  and  do  not  in  the  least  deceive  themselves  as  to  true 
pleasure,  nor  yet  as  to  true  suffering.  For  it  is  certain  that  those 
who  are  incontinent  judge  reasonably  and  rightly,  and  know  that 
to  be  evil  to  which  they  are  prompted  by  their  lusts  in  spite 
of  duty,  and  therefore  resist  and  set  reason  against  appetite, 
whence  arises  a  conflict  of  pleasure  and  pain  against  judgment. 
Conquered  at  last  by  too  potent  appetite,  reason  yields,  like 
a  ship  which  resists  awhile  the  buffetings  of  the  sea,  but  finally 
beaten  by  the  too  furious  violence  of  the  gale,  with  anchor  and 
rigging  broken,  suffers  herself  to  be  driven  at  fortune's  will, 
without  use  of  helm  or  any  guidance  of  compass  to  save  her. 

"  Therefore  the  incontinent  commit  their  errours  with  a  cer- 
tain doubtful  remorse,  and  as  it  were  in  their  own  despite;  which 
they  would  not  do  if  they  did  not  know  that  what  they  are  doing 
is  evil,  but  would  follow  appetite  without  restraint  of  reason  and 
wholly  uncontrolled,  and  would  then  be  not  incontinent  but 
intemperate,  which  is  much  worse.  Thus  incontinence  is  said  to 
be  a  diminished  vice,  because  it  has  a  grain  of  reason  in  it;  and 
likewise  continence  is  said  to  be  an  imperfect  virtue,  because  it 
has  a  grain  of  passion  in  it.  Therefore  in  this,  methinks,  we 
cannot  say  that  the  errours  of  the  incontinent  proceed  from 
ignorance,  or  that  they  deceive  themselves  and  that  they  do  not 
sin,  when  they  well  know  that  they  are  sinning," 

16.— My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"In  truth,  messer  Pietro,  your  argument  is  fine;  yet  to  my 
thinking  it  is  specious  rather  than  sound,  for  although  the  incon- 
tinent sin  hesitatingly,  and  reason  struggles  with  appetite  in 
their  mind,  and  although  that  which  is  evil  seems  evil  to  them, — 
yet  they  have  no  perfect  perception  of  it,  nor  do  they  know  it  so 
thoroughly  as  they  need.  Hence  they  have  a  vague  idea  rather 
than  any  certain  knowledge  of  it,  and  thus  allow  their  reason  to 
be  overcome  by  passion;  but  if  they  had  true  knowledge  of  it, 



doubtless  they  would  not  err:  since  the  thing  by  which  appetite 
conquers  reason  is  always  ignorance,  and  true  knowledge  can 
never  be  overcome  by  passion,  which  is  derived  from  the  body 
and  not  from  the  mind,  and  becomes  virtue  if  rightly  ruled  and 
governed  by  reason;  if  not,  it  becomes  vice. 

"  But  reason  has  such  power  that  it  always  reduces  the  senses 
to  submission  and  enters  in  by  wonderful  means  and  ways,  pro- 
vided ignorance  does  not  seize  that  which  it  ought  to  possess. 
So  that  although  the  spirits  and  nerves  and  bones  have  no 
reason  in  them,  yet  when  a  movement  of  the  mind  starts  in  us, 
as  if  thought  were  spurring  and  shaking  the  bridle  on  our 
spirits,  all  our  members  make  ready, — the  feet  to  run,  the  hands 
to  take  or  to  do  that  which  the  mind  thinks;  and  moreover  this 
is  clearly  seen  in  many  who  at  times  unwittingly  eat  some  loath- 
some and  disgusting  food,  which  to  their  taste  seems  very 
delicious,  and  then  learning  what  thing  it  was,  not  only  suffer 
pain  and  distress  of  mind,  but  the  body  so  follows  the  mental 
sense,  that  they  must  perforce  cast  up  that  food." 

I?-— My  lord  Ottaviano  was  continuing  his  discourse  further,  but 
the  Magnifico  Giuliano  interrupted  him  and  said: 

"  If  I  heard  aright,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  you  said  that  continence 
is  an  imperfect  virtue  because  it  has  a  grain  of  passion  in  it;  and 
when  there  is  a  struggle  waging  in  our  minds  between  reason  and 
appetite,  I  think  that  the  virtue  which  battles  and  gives  reason  the 
victory,  ought  to  be  esteemed  more  perfect  than  that  which  con- 
quers without  opposition  of  lust  or  passion;  for  there  the  mind 
seems  not  to  abstain  from  evil  by  force  of  virtue,  but  to  refrain 
from  doing  evil  because  it  has  no  inclination  thereto." 

Then  my  lord  Ottaviano  said: 

"  Which  captain  would  you  deem  of  greater  worth,  the  one  who 
fighting  openly  puts  himself  in  danger  and  yet  conquers  the 
enemy,  or  the  one  who  by  his  ability  and  skill  deprives  them  of 
their  strength,  reducing  them  to  such  straits  that  they  cannot 
fight,  and  thus  conquers  them  without  any  battle  or  danger  what- 

"  The  one,"  said  the  Magnifico  Giuliano,  "  who  more  safely  con- 
quers is  without  doubt  more  to  be  praised,  provided  this  safe  vic- 
tory of  his  do  not  proceed  from  the  cowardice  of  the  enemy." 



My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"  You  have  judged  rightly;  and  hence  I  tell  you  that  continence 
may  be  likened  to  a  captain  who  fights  manfully,  and  although 
the  enemy  be  strong  and  powerful,  still  conquers  them,  albeit 
not  without  great  difficulty  and  danger.  While  temperance 
unperturbed  is  like  that  captain  who  conquers  and  rules  without 
opposition,  and  having  not  only  abated  but  quite  extinguished  the 
fire  of  lust  in  the  mind  where  she  abides,  like  a  good  prince  in 
time  of  civil  strife,  she  destroys  her  seditious  enemies  within,  and 
gives  reason  the  sceptre  and  whole  dominion. 

"  Thus  this  virtue  does  not  compel  the  mind,  but  infusing  it  by 
very  gentle  means  with  a  vehement  belief  that  inclines  it  to  right- 
eousness, renders  it  calm  and  full  of  rest,  in  all  things  equal  and 
well  measured,  and  disposed  on  every  side  by  a  certain  self-ac- 
cord which  adorns  it  with  a  tranquillity  so  serene  that  it  is  never 
ruffled,  and  becomes  in  all  things  very  obedient  to  reason  and 
ready  to  turn  its  every  act  thereto  and  to  follow  wherever  reason 
may  wish  to  lead  it,  without  the  least  unwillingness;  like  a  tender 
lambkin,  which  always  runs  and  stops  and  walks  near  its  dam, 
and  moves  only  with  her. 

"This  virtue,  then,  is  very  perfect  and  especially  befitting  to 
princes,  because  from  it  spring  many  others." 

i8.— Then  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  I  do  not  know  what  virtues  befitting  to  a  lord  can  spring  from 
this  temperance,  if  it  is  the  one  which  removes  the  passions  from 
the  mind,  as  you  say.  Perhaps  this  would  be  fitting  in  a  monk  or 
hermit;  but  I  am  by  no  means  sure  whether  it  would  befit  a  prince 
(who  was  magnanimous,  liberal  and  valiant  in  arms)  never  to  feel, 
whatever  might  be  done  to  him,  either  wrath  or  hate  or  good  will 
or  scorn  or  lust  or  passion  of  any  kind,  and  whether  he  could 
without  this  wield  authority  over  citizens  or  soldiers." 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied  : 

"  I  did  not  say  that  temperance  wholly  removes  and  uproots  the 
passions  from  the  human  mind,  nor  would  it  be  well  to  do  this,  for 
even  the  passions  contain  some  elements  of  good;  but  it  reduces  to 
the  sway  of  reason  thatwhich  is  perverse  in  ourpassions  and  recu- 
sant to  right.  Therefore  it  is  not  well  to  extirpate  the  passions 
altogether,  in  order  to  be  rid  of  disturbance;  for  this  would  be 



like  making  an  edict  that  no  one  must  drink  wine,  in  order  to  be 
rid  of  drunkenness,  or  forbidding  everyone  to  run,  because  in  run- 
ning we  sometimes  fall.  You  know  that  those  who  tame  horses 
do  not  keep  them  from  running  and  leaping,  but  would  have  them 
do  so  seasonably  and  in  obedience  to  the  rider. 

"  Thus,  when  moderated  by  temperance,  the  passions  are  help- 
ful to  virtue,  like  the  wrath  that  aids  strength,  hatred  of  evil-doers 
aids  justice,  and  likewise  the  other  virtues  are  aided  by  the  pas- 
sions; which,  if  they  were  wholly  removed,  would  leave  the  reason 
very  weak  and  languid,  so  that  it  could  effect  little,  like  the  master 
of  a  vessel  abandoned  by  the  winds  in  a  great  calm, 

"  Now  do  not  marvel,  messer  Cesare,  if  I  have  said  that  many 
other  virtues  are  born  of  temperance,  for  when  a  mind  is  attuned 
to  this  harmony,  it  then  through  the  reason  easily  receives  true 
strength,  which  makes  it  bold,  and  safe  from  every  peril,  and 
almost  superior  to  human  passions.  Nor  is  this  less  true  of  jus- 
tice (unspotted  virgin,  friend  of  modesty  and  good,  queen  of  all  the 
other  virtues),  because  she  teaches  us  to  do  that  which  it  is  right  to 
do,  and  to  shun  that  which  it  is  right  to  shun ;  and  therefore  she 
is  most  perfect,  because  the  other  virtues  perform  their  works 
through  her,  and  because  she  is  helpful  to  whomsoever  possesses 
her,  bothto  himself  and  to  others:  without  whom  (as  it  is  said)  Jove 
himself  could  not  rule  his  kingdom  rightly.  Magnanimity  also  fol- 
lows these  and  enhances  them  all;  but  she  cannot  stand  alone,  for 
whoever  has  no  other  virtue,  cannot  be  magnanimous.  Then  the 
guide  of  these  virtues  is  foresight,  which  consists  in  a  certain 
judgment  in  choosing  well.  And  in  this  happy  chain  are  joined 
liberality,  magnificence,  thirst  for  honour,  gentleness,  pleasant- 
ness, affability  and  many  others  which  there  is  not  now  time  to 

"  But  if  our  Courtier  will  do  that  which  we  have  said,  he  will 
find  them  all  in  his  prince's  mind,  and  will  daily  see  spring  there- 
from beautiful  flowers  and  fruits,  such  as  all  the  delightful  gar- 
dens in  the  world  do  not  contain;  and  he  will  feel  within  him 
very  great  content  when  he  remembers  that  he  gave  his  prince, 
not  that  which  fools  give  (which  is  gold  or  silver,  vases,  raiment, 
and  the  like,  whereof  the  giver  has  very  great  dearth,  and  the 
recipient  very  great  abundance),  but  that  faculty  which  of  all 



things  human  is  perhaps  the  greatest  and  rarest — that  is,  the 
manner  and  mode  of  ruling  and  reigning  rightly:  which  would 
of  itself  alone  suffice  to  make  men  happy  and  to  bring  back  once 
more  to  earth  that  age  of  gold  which  is  said  to  have  been  when 
Saturn  reigned." 

19.— My  lord  Ottaviano  having  here  made  a  little  pause  as  if  to 
rest,  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  Which  do  you  think,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  the  happier  rule, 
and  the  more  able  to  bring  back  to  earth  that  age  of  gold  which 
you  have  mentioned, — the  rule  of  so  good  a  prince,  or  the  gov- 
ernment of  a  good  republic?" 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"I  should  always  prefer  the  rule  of  a  good  prince,  because 
such  dominion  is  more  accordant  with  nature,  and  (if  it  is  allowed 
to  compare  small  things  with  infinitely  great)  more  like  that  of 
God,  who  governs  the  universe  singly  and  alone. 

"  But  leaving  this  aside,  you  see  that  in  those  things  that  are 
wrought  by  human  skill, — such  as  armies,  great  fleets,  buildings 
and  the  like, — the  whole  is  referred  to  one  man  who  governs  to 
his  liking.  So  too  in  our  body  all  the  members  labour  and  are 
employed  at  the  command  of  the  heart.  Moreover  it  seems  fit- 
ting that  the  people  should  be  ruled  by  one  prince,  as  is  the  case 
also  with  many  animals,  to  whom  nature  teaches  this  obedience 
as  a  very  salutary  thing.  You  know  that  stags,  cranes  and  many 
other  birds,  when  on  their  flight,  always  set  up  a  leader,  whom 
they  follow  and  obey;  and  the  bees  obey  their  king  as  it  were  by 
process  of  reason,  and  with  as  much  reverence  as  the  most 
obedient  people  on  earth;  and  hence  all  this  is  very  strong  proof 
that  the  dominion  of  princes  is  more  accordant  with  nature  than 
that  of  republics." 

20.— Then  messer  Pietro  Bembo  said: 

•'  Yet  it  seems  to  me  that  since  liberty  has  been  given  us  by 
God  as  a  supreme  gift,  it  is  not  reasonable  that  we  should  be  de- 
prived of  it,  nor  that  one  man  should  have  a  larger  share  of  it 
than  another:  which  happens  under  the  dominion  of  princes, 
who  for  the  most  part  hold  their  subjects  in  closest  bondage. 
But  in  rightly  ordered  republics  this  liberty  is  fully  preserved: 
besides  which,  both  in  judgments  and  in  councils,  it  more  often 



happens  that  one  man's  opinion  singly  is  wrong,  than  that  of 
many;  because  disturbance  arising  from  anger  or  scorn  or  lust 
more  easily  enters  the  mind  of  one  man  than  that  of  the  many, 
who  are  almost  like  a  great  body  of  water,  which  is  less  liable 
to  corruption  than  a  small  one. 

"  I  say,  too,  that  the  example  of  the  animals  does  not  seem  to 
me  apposite;  for  stags,  cranes  and  the  rest  do  not  always  set  up 
the  same  one  to  follow  and  obey,  but  on  the  contrary  change  and 
vary,  giving  the  dominion  over  them  now  to  one,  now  to  another, 
and  thus  come  to  be  a  kind  of  republic  rather  than  a  monarchy; 
and  this  may  be  called  true  and  equal  liberty,  when  those  who 
command  to-day  in  turn  obey  to-morrow.  Neither  does  the  ex- 
ample of  the  bees  seem  to  me  pertinent,  for  that  king  of  theirs  is 
not  of  their  own  species;  and  therefore  whoever  would  give  men 
a  truly  worthy  lord,  would  need  to  find  one  of  another  species 
and  of  more  excellent  nature  than  that  of  men,  if  men  must  of 
reason  obey  him,  like  the  herds  which  obey  not  an  animal  of 
their  own  kind  but  a  herdsman,  who  is  a  man  and  of  higher 
species  than  theirs. 

"  For  these  reasons,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  I  think  the  rule  of  a 
republic  is  more  desirable  than  that  of  a  king." 

21 — Then  my  lord  Ottaviano  said: 

"  Against  your  opinion,  messer  Pietro,  I  wish  to  cite  only  one 
argument;  which  is,  that  of  the  modes  of  ruling  people  well, 
three  kinds  only  are  to  be  found:  one  is  monarchy;  another,  the 
rule  of  the  good,  whom  the  ancients  called  optimates;  the  other, 
popular  government.  And  the  excess  and  opposite  extreme,  so 
to  speak,  wherein  each  one  of  the  forms  of  rule  falls  to  ruin  and 
decay,  is  when  monarchy  becomes  tyranny ;  and  when  the  rule 
of  the  optimates  changes  to  government  by  a  few  powerful  and 
bad  men;  and  when  popular  government  is  seized  by  the  rabble, 
which  breaks  down  distinctions  and  commits  the  government 
of  the  whole  to  the  caprice  of  the  multitude.  Of  these  three 
kinds  of  bad  government,  it  is  certain  that  tyranny  is  the  worst 
of  all,  as  could  be  proved  by  many  arguments;  then  it  follows 
that  monarchy  is  the  best  of  the  three  kinds  of  good  government, 
because  it  is  the  opposite  of  the  worst;  for,  as  you  know,  the 
results  of  opposite  causes  are  themselves  opposite. 



"  Now  as  to  what  you  said  about  liberty,  I  reply  that  we  ought 
not  to  say  that  true  liberty  is  to  live  as  we  like,  but  to  live  ac- 
cording to  good  laws.  Nor  is  it  less  natural  and  useful  and 
necessary  to  obey  than  it  is  to  command;  and  some  things  are 
born  and  thus  appointed  and  ordained  by  nature  to  command,  as 
certain  others  are  to  obey.  True  it  is  that  there  are  two  modes 
of  ruling:  the  one  (imperious  and  violent\like  that  of  masters 
towards  their  slaves,  and  in  this  way  the  soul  commands  the 
body;  the  other  more  mild  and  gentle,  like  that  of  good  princes 
by  means  of  laws  over  their  subjects,  and  in  this  way  the  reason 
commands  the  appetite:  and  both  of  these  modes  are  useful,  for 
the  body  is  by  nature  created  apt  for  obedience  to  the  soul,  and 
so  is  appetite  for  obedience  to  reason.  Moreover  there  are 
many  men  whose  actions  have  to  do  only  with  the  use  of  the 
body;  and  such  as  these  are  as  far  from  virtuous  as  the  soul 
from  the  body,  and  although  they  are  rational  creatures,  they 
have  only  such  share  of  reason  as  to  recognize  it  but  not  to 
possess  or  profit  by  it.  These,  therefore,  are  naturally  slaves,  and 
it  is  better  and  more  profitable  for  them  to  obey  than  to  com- 

22.— Thereupon  my  lord  Caspar  said: 

"  In  what  mode  then  are  the  discreet  and  virtuous,  and  those 
who  are  not  by  nature  slaves,  to  be  ruled?  " 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"  With  that  gentle  rule,  kingly  and  civic.  And  to  such  men  it 
is  well  sometimes  to  give  the  charge  of  those  offices  for  which 
they  are  fitted,  to  the  end  that  they  too  may  be  able  to  command 
and  govern  those  less  wise  than  themselves,  but  in  such  manner 
that  the  chief  rule  shall  wholly  depend  upon  the  supreme  prince. 
And  since  you  said  that  it  is  an  easier  thing  for  the  mind  of  one 
man  to  be  corrupted  than  for  that  of  many,  I  say  that  it  is  also 
an  easier  thing  to  find  one  good  and  wise  man  than  many.  And 
to  be  good  and  wise  ought  to  be  deemed  possible  for  a  king 
of  noble  race,  inclined  to  worthiness  by  his  natural  instinct  and 
by  the  illustrious  memory  of  his  predecessors,  and  practised  in 
good  behaviour;  and  if  he  be  not  of  another  species  more  than 
human  (as  you  said  of  the  bee-king),  being  aided  by  the  teachings 
and  by  the  education  and  skill  of  so  prudent  and  excellent  a 


Courtier  as  these  gentlemen  have  described, — he  will  be  very 
just,  continent,  temperate,  strong  and  wise,  full  of  liberality, 
magnificence,  religion  and  clemency.  In  short,  he  will  be  very 
glorious,  and  very  dear  to  men  and  to  God  (by  whose  grace  he  will 
attain  that  heroic  worth  which  will  make  him  exceed  the  limits  of 
humanity),  and  may  be  called  a  demigod  rather  than  a  mortal  man. 

•'  For  God  delights  in  and  protects,  not  those  princes  who  wish 
to  imitate  Him  by  displaying  great  power  and  making  themselves 
adored  of  men,  but  those  who,  besides  the  power  that  makes 
them  mighty,  strive  to  make  themselves  like  Him  in  goodness 
and  wisdom,  whereby  they  wish  and  are  able  to  do  good  and  to 
be  His  ministers,  distributing  for  men's  weal  the  benefits  and 
gifts  which  they  receive  from  Him.  Thus,  just  as  in  heaven  the 
sun  and  moon  and  other  stars  show  the  world  as  in  a  mirrour 
some  likeness  of  God,  so  on  earth  a  much  liker  image  of  God  is 
found  in  those  good  princes  who  love  and  revere  Him,  and  show 
their  people  the  shining  light  of  His  justice  and  a  reflection 
of  His  divine  reason  and  mind;  and  with  such  as  these  God 
shares  His  righteousness,  equity,  justice  and  goodness,  and  those 
other  happy  blessings  which  I  know  not  how  to  name,  but  which 
display  to  the  world  much  clearer  proof  of  divinity  than  the  sun's 
light,  or  the  continual  revolving  of  the  heavens  and  the  various 
coursing  of  the  stars. 

23-— "  Accordingly  men  have  been  placed  by  God  under  the 
ward  of  princes,  who  for  this  reason  ought  to  take  diligent  care 
of  them,  in  order  to  render  Him  an  account  of  them  like  good 
stewards  to  their  lord,  and  ought  to  love  them,  and  regard 
as  personal  to  themselves  every  good  and  evil  thing  that  hap- 
pens to  them,  and  provide  for  their  happiness  above  every  other 
thing.  Therefore  the  prince  ought  not  only  to  be  good,  but  also 
to  make  others  good,  like  that  square  used  by  architects,  which 
not  only  is  straight  and  true  itself,  but  also  makes  straight 
and  true  all  things  to  which  it  is  applied.  And  a  very  great 
proof  that  the  prince  is  good  is  when  his  people  are  good, 
because  the  prince's  life  is  law  and  preceptress  to  his  subjects, 
and  upon  his  behaviour  all  the  others  must  needs  depend;  nor  is 
it  fitting  for  an  ignorant  man  to  teach,  nor  for  an  unordered  man 
to  give  orders,  nor  for  one  who  falls  to  raise  up  others. 



'*  Hence  if  the  prince  would  perform  these  duties  rightly,  he 
must  devote  every  study  and  diligence  to  wisdom;  then  he  must 
set  before  himself  and  follow  steadfastly  in  everything  the  law 
of  reason  (unwritten  on  paper  or  metal,  but  graven  upon  his  own 
mind),  to  the  end  that  it  may  be  not  only  familiar  to  him,  but  in- 
grained in  him,  and  abide  with  him  as  a  part  of  himself;  so  that 
day  and  night,  in  every  place  and  time,  it  may  admonish  him  and 
speak  inwardly  to  his  heart,  freeing  him  from  those  disturbances 
that  are  felt  by  intemperate  minds,  which — because  they  are 
oppressed  on  the  one  hand  as  it  were  by  the  very  deep  sleep  of 
ignorance,  and  on  the  other  by  the  travail  which  they  suffer  from 
their  perverse  and  blind  desires — are  tossed  by  relentless  fury, 
as  a  sleeper  sometimes  is  by  strange  and  dreadful  visions. 

24.— "Moreover,  by  adding  greater  power  to  evil  wish,  greater 
harm  is  added  also;  and  when  the  prince  is  able  to  do  that  which 
he  wishes,  then  there  is  great  danger  that  he  will  not  wish  that 
which  he  ought.  Hence  Bias  well  said  that  office  shows  what 
men  are:"'  for  just  as  vases  with  some  crack  in  them  cannot 
easily  be  detected  so  long  as  they  are  empty,  yet  if  liquid  be 
poured  in  they  at  once  show  where  the  flaw  is; — so  corrupt  and 
vicious  minds  seldom  disclose  their  defects  except  when  they  are 
filled  with  authority;  because  then  they  do  not  suffice  to  bear  the 
heavy  weight  of  power,  and  hence  run  all  lengths  and  scatter  on 
every  side  the  greeds,  the  pride,  the  bad  temper,  the  insolence, 
and  those  tyrannical  practices,  which  they  have  within  them. 
Thus  they  recklessly  persecute  the  good  and  wise  and  exalt  the 
wicked,  and  in  their  cities  they  permit  neither  friendships  nor 
unions  nor  understandings  among  their  subjects,  but  maintain 
spies,  informers  and  murderers,  in  order  that  they  may  frighten 
and  make  men  cowardly,  and  sow  discords  to  keep  men  disunited 
and  weak.  And  from  these  ways  there  then  ensue  countless  ruin 
and  losses  to  the  unhappy  people,  and  often  cruel  death  (or  at 
least  continual  fear)  to  the  tyrants  themselves ;  because  good 
princes  are  not  afraid  for  themselves,  but  for  those  whom  they 
rule,  while  tyrants  fear  even  those  whom  they  rule;  hence  the 
greater  the  number  of  people  they  rule  and  the  more  powerful 
they  are,  so  much  the  more  do  they  fear  and  so  many  more 
enemies  do  they  have. 


"  How  frightened  and  of  what  uneasy  mind  do  you  think  was 
Clearchus,  tyrant  of  Pontus,"'  every  time  he  went  into  the  market- 
place or  theatre,  or  to  a  banquet  or  other  public  place?  who,  as 
it  is  written,  was  wont  to  sleep  shut  up  in  a  chest.  Or  that  other 
tyrant,  Aristodemus  the  Argive?*"  who  made  a  kind  of  prison  of 
his  bed:  for  in  his  palace  he  had  a  little  room  hung  in  air,  and 
so  high  that  it  could  be  reached  only  by  a  ladder;  and  here  he 
slept  with  one  of  his  women,  whose  mother  took  away  the  ladder 
at  night  and  replaced  it  in  the  morning. 

"  A  wholly  different  life  from  this,  then,  ought  that  of  the  good 
prince  to  be,  free  and  safe  and  as  dear  to  his  subjects  as  their 
very  own,  and  so  ordered  as  to  partake  both  of  the  active  and 
of  the  contemplative,  as  much  as  may  comport  with  his  people's 

25-— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  And  which  of  these  two  lives,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  seems  to 
you  more  fitting  for  the  prince?" 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied,  laughing: 

"Perhaps  you  think  I  imagine  myself  to  be  that  excellent 
Courtier  who  ought  to  know  so  many  things  and  apply  them  to 
that  good  end  which  I  have  set  forth;  but  remember  that  these 
gentlemen  have  described  him  with  many  accomplishments  that 
are  not  in  me.  Therefore  let  us  first  take  care  to  find  him,  for  I 
leave  to  him  both  this  and  all  things  else  that  belong  to  a  good 

Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  I  think  that  if  any  of  the  accomplishments  ascribed  to  the 
Courtier  are  lacking  in  you,  they  are  music  and  dancing  and 
others  of  small  importance,  rather  than  those  that  belong  to  the 
moulding  of  the  prince  and  to  this  end  of  Courtiership." 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"None  of  those  are  of  small  importance  that  help  to  win  the 
prince's  favour,  which  is  necessary  (as  we  have  said)  before  the 
Courtier  risks  trying  to  teach  him  virtue;  which  I  think  I  have 
proved  can  be  learned,  and  in  which  there  is  as  much  profit  as 
there  is  loss  in  ignorance,  whence  spring  all  sins,  and  especially 
that  false  esteem  which  men  cherish  of  themselves.  But  methinks 
I  have  said  enough,  and  perhaps  more  than  I  promised." 



Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"We  shall  be  the  more  beholden  to  your  courtesy,  the  more 
your  performance  outstrips  your  promise;  so  do  not  weary  of 
saying  what  occurs  to  you  about  my  lord  Caspar's  question;  and 
by  your  faith,  tell  us  also  everything  that  you  would  teach  your 
prince  if  he  had  need  of  instruction,  and  imagine  yourself  to  have 
won  completely  his  favour,  so  that  you  are  allowed  to  tell  him 
freely  what  comes  into  your  mind." 

26.— My  lord  Ottaviano  laughed^  and  said: 

"  If  I  had  the  favour  of  a  certain  prince  whom  I  know,  and  were 
to  tell  him  freely  what  I  think,  I  fear  that  I  should  soon  lose  it; 
moreover,  to  teach  him,  I  myself  should  first  need  to  learn. 

•'  Yet  since  it  pleases  you  to  have  me  answer  my  lord  Caspar 
further  concerning  this,  I  say  that  I  think  princes  ought  to  lead 
both  the  two  lives,  but  more  especially  the  contemplative  life,  be- 
cause in  their  case  this  is  divided  into  two  parts :  one  of  which  con- 
sists in  perceiving  rightly  and  in  judging ;.  the  other  in  command- 
ing (justly  and  in  those  ways  that  are  fitting)  things  reasonable 
and  those  wherein  they  have  authority,  and  in  requiring  the  same 
of  such  men  as  have  in  reason  to  obey,  and  at  appropriate  times 
and  places;  and  of  this  Duke  Federico  spoke  when  he  said  that 
whoever  knows  how  to  command  is  always  obeyed.  And  as 
command  is  always  the  chief  office  of  princes,  they  ought  often 
to  see  with  their  own  eyes  and  be  present  at  the  execution  of 
their  commands,  and  ought  also  sometimes  to  take  part  them- 
selves, according  to  the  time  and  need;  and  all  this  partakes  of, 
action:  but  the  aim  of  the  active  life  ought  to  be  the  contempla-  \ 
tive,  as  peace  is  that  of  war,  repose  that  of  toil.  _|_ 

27.—"  Therefore  it  is  also  the  good  prince's  office  so  to  estab- 
lish his  people,  and  under  such  laws  and  ordinances,  that  they 
may  live  at  ease  and  peace,  without  danger  and  with  dignity,  and 
may  worthily  enjoy  this  end  of  their  actions,  which  ought  to  be 
tranquillity.  For  many  republics  and  princes  are  often  found  that 
have  been  very  prosperous  and  great  in  war,  and  as  soon  as  they 
have  had  peace  they  have  gone  to  ruin  and  lost  their  greatness 
and  splendour,  like  iron  laid  aside.  And  this  has  come  about 
from  nothing  else  but  from  their  not  having  been  well  established 
for  living  at  peace,  and  from  their  not  knowing  how  to  enjoy  the 


blessing  of  ease.  And  to  be  always  at  war,  without  seeking  to 
arrive  at  the  end  of  peace,  is  not  permitted:  albeit  some  princes 
think  that  their  chief  aim  ought  to  be  to  lord  it  over  their  neigh- 
bours; and  therefore  they  train  their  people  to  a  warlike  ferocity 
for  spoil,  killing  and  the  like,  and  give  rewards  to  excite  it,  and 
call  it  virtue. 

"  Thus  it  was  once  a  custom  among  the  Scythians  that  whoever 
had  not  slain  an  enemy  might  not  drink  from  the  bowl  which 
was  handed  abput  to  the  company  at  solemn  feasts.  In  other 
places  they  used  to  set  up,  around  a  tomb,  as  many  obelisks  as  he 
who  was  buried  there  had  slain  enemies;  and  all  these  things 
were  done  to  make  men  warlike,  solely  in  order  to  lord  it  over 
others:  which  was  almost  impossible,  because  the  undertaking 
was  endless  (until  the  whole  world  should  be  subjugated)  and  far 
from  reasonable  according  to  the  law  of  nature,  which  will  not 
have  us  pleased  with  that  in  others  which  is  displeasing  to  us  in 

"Therefore  princes  ought  not  to  make  their  people  warlike  for 
lust  of  rule,  but  for  the  sake  of  being  able  to  defend  themselves 
and  their  people  against  him  who  would  reduce  them  to  bondage 
or  do  them  wrong  in  any  wise ;  or  to  drive  out  tyrants  and  govern 
those  people  well  who  were  ill  used,  or  to  reduce  to  bondage 
those  who  are  by  nature  such  as  to  deserve  being  made  slaves, 
with  the  object  of  governing  them  well  and  giving  them  ease  and 
rest  and  peace.  To  this  end  also  the  laws  and  all  the  ordinances 
of  justice  ought  to  be  directed,  by  punishing  the  wicked,  not  from 
hatred,  but  in  order  that  they  may  not  be  wicked  and  to  the  end 
that  they  may  not  disturb  the  tranquillity  of  the  good.  For  in 
truth  it  is  a  monstrous  thing  and  worthy  of  blame  for  men  to  show 
themselves  valiant  and  wise  in  war  (which  is  bad  in  itself)  and  in 
peace  and  quiet  (which  are  good)  to  show  themselves  ignorant 
and  of  so  little  worth  that  they  know  not  how  to  enjoy  their  hap- 

"Hence,  just  as  in  war  men  ought  to  apply  themselves  to  the 
qualities  that  are  useful  and  necessary  to  attain  its  end,  which 
is  peace, — so  in  peace,  to  attain  its  end  also,  which  is  tranquillity, 
they  ought  to  apply  themselves  to  the  righteous  qualities  that  are 
the  end  of  the  useful.    And  thus  subjects  will  be  good,  and  the 



prince  will  have  much  more  to  praise  and  reward  than  to  punish; 
and  dominion  will  be  very  happy  for  the  subjects  and  for  the 
prince — not  imperious,  like  that  of  master  over  slave,  but  sweet 
and  gentle,  like  that  of  a  good  father  over  a  good  son." 

28 Then  my  lord  Caspar  said: 

"  I  should  much  like  to  know  what  these  virtues  are  that  are 
useful  and  necessary  in  war,  and  what  ones  are  righteous  in 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"  All  virtues  are  good  and  helpful,  because  they  tend  to  a  good 
end;  but  of  especial  utility  in  war  is  that  true  courage  which  so 
frees  the  mind  from  the  passions  that  it  not  only  fears  not  dangers, 
but  even  pays  no  heed  to  them;  likewise  steadfastness,  and  that 
enduring  patience,  with  a  mind  staunch  and  undisturbed  by  all 
the  shocks  of  fortune.  It  is  also  fitting  in  war,  and  always,  to  have 
all  the  virtues  that  make  for  right, — like  justice,  continence, 
temperance;  but  much  more  in  time  of  peace  and  ease,  because 
men  placed  in  prosperity  and  ease,  when  good  fortune  smiles  upon 
them,  often  become  unjust,  intemperate,  and  allow  themselves  to 
be  corrupted  by  pleasures:  hence  those  who  are  in  such  case 
have  very  great  need  of  these  virtues,  for  ease  too  readily  engen- 
ders evil  behaviour  in  human  minds.  Therefore  it  was  anciently 
said  as  a  proverb,  slaves  should  be  given  no  ease;  and  it  is  be- 
lieved that  the  pyramids  of  Egypt  were  made  to  keep  the  people 
busy,  because  it  is  very  good  for  everyone  to  be  accustomed  to 
bear  toil. 

«'  There  are  still  many  other  virtues  that  are  all  helpful,  but  let 
it  suffice  for  the  present  that  I  have  spoken  until  now;  for  if  I 
knew  how  to  teach  my  prince  and  instruct  him  in  this  kind  of 
worthy  education  such  as  we  have  planned,  merely  by  so  doing 
I  should  deem  myself  to  have  attained  sufficiently  well  the  aim 
of  the  good  Courtier." 

29.— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"My  lord  Ottaviano,  since  you  have  highly  praised  good  edu- 
cation, and  seemed  almost  to  think  that  it  is  the  chief  means  of 
making  a  man  virtuous  and  good,  I  should  like  to  know  whether 
this  instruction,  which  the  Courtier  must  give  his  prince,  ought 
to  be  begun  with  practice  and  with  daily  behaviour  as  it  were, 


so  as  to  accustom  him  to  right  doing  without  his  perceiving  it;  or 
whether  a  beginning  ought  to  be  made  by  demonstrating  to  his 
reason  the  quality  of  good  and  evil,  and  by  making  him  under- 
stand, before  he  sets  out,  which  is  the  good  way  and  the  one  to 
follow,  and  which  is  the  bad  way  and  the  one  to  avoid:  in  short 
whether  his  mind  ought  to  be  first  imbued  and  implanted  with 
the  virtues  through  the  reason  and  intelligence  or  through 

My  lord  Ottaviano  said: 

"You  start  me  upon  too  long  a  discourse;  still,  in  order  that 
you  may  not  think  I  abstain  from  lack  of  will  to  answer  your 
questions,  I  say  that  just  as  our  mind  and  body  are  two  things, 
so  too  the  soul  is  divided  into  two  parts,  of  which  one  has  the 
reason  in  it,  and  the  other  has  the  appetite.  Then,  just  as  in 
generation  the  body  precedes  the  soul,  so  the  unreasoning  part 
of  the  soul  precedes  the  reasoning  part:  which  is  clearly  per- 
ceived in  children,  in  whom  anger  and  lust  are  seen  almost  as 
soon  as  they  are  born,  but  with  the  lapse  of  time  reason  appears. 
Hence  care  must  be  taken  of  the  body  earlier  than  of  the  soul, 
,  and  of  appetite  earlier  than  of  reason;  but  care  of  the  body  with 
a  view  to  the  soul,  and  of  the  appetite  with  a  view  to  reason:  for 
just  as  intellectual  worth  is  perfected  by  instruction,  so  is  moral 
worth  perfected  by  practice.  "We  ought,  therefore,  first  to  teach 
through  habit,  which  is  able  to  govern  the  as  yet  unreasoning 
appetites  and  to  direct  them  towards  the  good  by  means  of  that 
fair  use;  next  we  ought  to  establish  them  through  the  under- 
standing, which,  although  it  shows  its  light  more  tardily,  still 
furnishes  a  mode  of  making  the  virtues  more  perfectly  fruitful  to 
one  whose  mind  is  well  trained  by  practice, — wherein,  to  my 
thinking,  lies  the  whole  matter." 

30.— My  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"Before  you  go  further,  I  should  like  to  know  what  care  ought 
to  be  taken  of  the  body,  since  you  said  that  we  ought  to  take 
care  of  it  earlier  than  of  the  soul." 

"  As  to  that,"  replied  my  lord  Ottaviano,  laughing,  "  ask  those 
who  nourish  their  bodies  well,  and  are  plump  and  fresh;  for 
mine,  as  you  see,  is  not  too  well  conditioned.  Yet  of  this  also  it 
would  be  possible  to  say  much,  as  of  the  proper  time  for  mar- 



riage,  to  the  end  that  the  children  may  not  be  too  near  or  too  far 
from  their  father's  age;  of  the  exercises  and  education  to  be  fol- 
lowed from  birth  and  during  the  rest  of  life,  in  order  to  make 
them  handsome,  strong  and  sturdy." 

My  lord  Caspar  replied: 

"  That  which  would  best  please  women  for  making  their  chil- 
dren handsome  and  beautiful,  methinks  would  be  that  commu- 
nity wherein  Plato  in  his  Republic  wishes  them  to  be  held,  and 
after  that  manner."  "' 

Then  my  lady  Emilia  said,  laughing: 

•'  It  is  not  in  the  compact  that  you  should  fall  to  speaking  ill 
of  women  again." 

"  I  think,"  replied  my  lord  Caspar,  "  that  I  give  them  great 
praise  in  saying  that  they  wish  to  bring  in  a  custom  approved 
by  so  great  a  man." 

Messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said,  laughing: 

"  Let  us  see  whether  this  could  have  place  among  my  lord 
Ottaviano's  precepts  (I  do  not  know  if  he  has  rehearsed  them 
all),  and  whether  it  were  well  for  the  prince  to  make  it  law." 

"  The  few  that  I  have  rehearsed,"  replied  my  lord  Ottaviano, 
"  might  perhaps  suffice  to  make  a  prince  good,  as  princes  go 
nowadays;  although  if  one  cared  to  look  into  the  matter  more 
minutely,  he  would  still  have  much  more  to  say." 

My  lady  Duchess  added: 

"  Since  it  costs  us  nothing  but  words,  tell  us  on  your  faith 
everything  that  it  would  occur  to  your  mind  to  teach  your  prince." 

3I-— My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"  Many  other  things,  my  Lady,  would  I  teach  him,  provided  I 
knew  them;  and  among  others,  that  he  should  choose  from  his 
subjects  a  number  of  the  noblest  and  wisest  gentlemen,  with 
whom  he  should  consult  on  everything,  and  that  he  should  give 
them  authority  and  free  leave  to  speak  their  mind  to  him  about 
all  things  without  ceremony;  and  that  he  should  preserve  such 
demeanour  towards  them,  that  they  all  might  perceive  that 
he  wished  to  know  the  truth  about  everything  and  held  all  man- 
ner of  falsehood  in  hatred.  Besides  this  council  of  nobles,  I 
should  advise  that  there  be  chosen  from  the  people  other  men  of 
lower  rank,  of  whom  a  popular  council  should  be  made,  to  com- 


municate  with  the  council  of  nobles  concerning  the  affairs  of  the 
city,  both  public  and  private.  And  in  this  way  there  would  be 
made  of  the  prince  (as  of  the  head)  and  of  the  nobles  and  com- 
monalty (as  of  the  members)  a  single  united  body,  the  govern- 
ment of  which  would  spring  chiefly  from  the  prince  and  yet 
include  the  others  also;  and  this  state  would  thus  have  the  form 
of  the  three  good  kinds  of  government,  which  are  Monarchy, 
Optimates,  and  People."* 

32.—"  Next  I  should  show  him  that  of  the  cares  which  belong 
to  the  prince,  the  most  important  is  that  of  justice;  for  the  main- 
tenance of  which  wise  and  well-tried  men  ought  to  be  chosen  to 
office,  whose  foresight  is  true  foresight  accompanied  by  good- 
ness, for  else  it  is  not  foresight,  but  cunning;  and  when  this 
goodness  is  lacking,  the  pleaders'  skill  and  subtlety  always 
work  nothing  but  ruin  and  destruction  to  law  and  justice,  and 
the  guilt  of  all  their  errours  must  be  laid  on  him  who  put  them 
in  office. 

"  I  should  tell  how  justice  also  fosters  that  piety  towards  God 
which  is  the  duty  of  all  men,  and  especially  of  princes,  who 
ought  to  love  Him  above  every  other  thing  and  direct  all  their 
actions  to  Him  as  to  the  true  end;  and  as  Xenophon  said,  to 
honour  and  love  Him  always,  but  much  more  when  they  are  in 
prosperity,  so  that  afterwards  they  may  the  more  reasonably 
have  confidence  to  ask  Him  for  mercy  when  they  are  in  some 
adversity."'  For  it  is  impossible  to  govern  rightly  either  one's 
self  or  others  without  the  help  of  God;  who  to  the  good  some- 
times sends  good  fortune  as  His  minister  to  relieve  them  from 
grievous  perils;  sometimes  adverse  fortune,  to  prevent  their 
being  so  lulled  by  prosperity  as  to  forget  Him  or  human  fore- 
sight, which  often  repairs  evil  fortune,  as  a  good  player  repairs 
bad  throws  of  the  dice  by  placing  his  board  well."*  Moreover  I 
should  not  cease  reminding  the  prince  to  be  truly  religious — not 
superstitious  or  given  to  the  vanities  of  incantation  and  sooth- 
saying; for  by  adding  divine  piety  and  true  religion  to  human 
foresight,  he  would  have  good  fortune  too  and  a  protecting  God 
always  to  increase  his  prosperity  in  peace  and  in  war. 

33-—"  Next  I  should  tell  how  he  ought  to  love  his  land  and 
people,  not  holding  them  too  much  in  bondage,  lest  he  make 



himself  odious  to  them,  from  which  thing  there  arise  seditions, 
conspiracies  and  a  thousand  other  evils;  nor  yet  in  too  great 
freedom,  lest  he  be  despised,  from  which  proceed  licentious  and 
dissolute  life  among  his  people,  rapine,  theft,  murder,  without 
any  fear  of  the  law;  often  the  ruin  and  total  destruction  of  city 
and  realms.  Next,  how  he  ought  to  love  those  near  him  accord- 
ing to  their  degree,  maintaining  among  all  men  an  even  equality 
in  some  things,  as  in  justice  and  liberty;  and  in  certain  other 
things  a  judicious  inequality,  as  in  being  generous,  in  rewarding, 
in  distributing  honours  and  dignities  according  to  the  inequality 
of  their  merits,  which  always  ought  not  to  exceed  but  to  be 
exceeded  by  their  rewards;  and  that  in  this  way  he  would  be  not 
merely  loved  but  almost  adored  by  his  subjects.  Nor  would 
there  be  need  that  he  should  turn  to  aliens  for  the  safeguard 
of  his  life,  because  his  own  people  for  their  very  profit  would 
guard  it  with  their  own,  and  all  men  would  gladly  obey  the 
laws,  when  they  found  that  he  himself  obeyed  and  was  as  it 
were  the  guardian  and  incorruptible  minister  of  the  same;  and 
thus  he  would  make  so  strong  an  impression  in  this  matter,  that 
even  if  he  sometimes  chanced  to  infringe  the  laws  in  some  par- 
ticular, everyone  would  feel  that  it  was  done  for  a  good  end,  and 
the  same  respect  and  reverence  would  be  paid  to  his  wish  as  to 
the  law  itself.  "" 

"  Thus  the  minds  of  his  subjects  would  be  so  tempered  that 
the  good  would  not  seek  for  more  than  they  needed,  and  the  bad 
could  not;  for  excessive  riches  are  oftentimes  the  cause  of  great 
ruin,  as  in  poor  Italy,  which  has  been  and  still  is  exposed  as 
a  prey  to  foreign  nations,  both  because  of  bad  government  and 
because  of  the  great  riches  of  which  it  is  full.  Hence  it  were 
well  to  have  the  greater  part  of  the  citizens  neither  very 
rich  nor  very  poor,  for  the  over-rich  often  become  insolent  and 
rash;  the  poar,  base  and  dishonest;  but  men  of  moderate  fortune 
do  not  lay  snares  for  others,  and  live  safe  from  being  snared: 
and  being  the  greater  number,  these  men  of  moderate  fortune 
are  also  more  powerful;  and  therefore  neither  the  poor  nor 
the  rich  can  conspire  against  the  prince  or  other  men,  nor  can 
they  sow  seditions;  wherefore,  in  order  to  avoid  this  evil,  it  is 
a  very  wholesome  thing  to  preserve  a  mean  in  all  things. 



34 — "  I  should  say  then,  that  the  prince  ought  to  employ  these  and 
many  other  suitable  precautions,  so  that  there  may  not  arise  in 
his  subjects'  mind  a  desire  for  new  things  and  for  a  change  of  gov- 
ernment; which  they  most  often  bring  to  pass  either  for  gain  or 
else  for  honour  which  they  hope  for,  or  because  of  loss  or  else  of 
shame  which  they  fear.  And  this  unrest  is  engendered  in  their 
minds  sometimes  by  hatred  and  anger  driving  them  to  despair, 
by  reason  of  the  wrongs  and  insults  that  have  been  wrought  upon 
them  through  the  avarice,  insolence  and  cruelty  or  lust  of  their 
superiors;  sometimes  by  the  contempt  that  is  aroused  in  them 
by  the  neglect  and  baseness  and  unworthiness  of  their  princes. 
These  two  errours  ought  to  be  avoided  by  winning  the  people's 
love  and  obedience;  as  is  done  by  benefiting  and  rewarding  the 
good,  and  by  prudently  and  sometimes  severely  precluding  the 
bad  and  seditious  from  becoming  powerful,  which  is  much  easier 
to  prevent  before  they  have  become  so  than  to  deprive  them  of 
power  after  they  have  once  acquired  it.  And  I  should  say  that 
to  prevent  a  subject  from  running  into  these  errours,  there  is  no 
better  way  than  to  keep  him  from  evil  practices,  and  especially 
from  those  that  spread  little  by  little;  for  they  are  secret  pests 
that  infect  cities  before  it  is  possible  to  cure  or  even  to  detect 

"  By  such  means  I  should  advise  that  the  prince  contrive  to 
keep  his  subjects  in  a  tranquil  state,  and  to  give  them  the  bless- 
ings of  mind  and  body  and  fortune;  but  those  of  the  body  and  of 
fortune,  in  order  to  be  able  to  exercise  those  of  the  mind,  which 
are  the  more  profitable  the  greater  and  more  superabundant 
they  are;  which  is  not  true  of  those  of  the  body  and  of  fortune. 
If,  then,  the  subjects  be  good  and  worthy  and  rightly  directed 
towards  the  goal  of  happiness,  their  prince  is  a  very  great  lord; 
for  that  is  a  true  and  great  dominion,  under  which  the  subjects 
are  good  and  well  governed  and  well  commanded." 

35-— Then  my  lord  Gaspar  said: 

"  I  think  that  he  would  be  a  small  lord  under  whom  all  the 
subjects  were  good,  for  in  every  place  the  good  are  few." 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"  If  some  Circe  were  to  change  all  the  subjects  of  the  King  of 
France  into  wild  beasts,  would  he  not  seem  to  you  a  small  lord 



for  all  he  ruled  over  so  many  thousand  animals?"'  And  on  the 
other  hand,  if  only  the  flocks  that  roam  our  mountains  here  for 
pasture  were  to  become  wise  men  and  worthy  cavaliers,  would 
you  not  think  that  those  herdsmen  who  governed  them  and  were 
obeyed  by  them,  had  become  great  lords  instead  of  herdsmen? 
You  see  then,  that  it  is  not  the  number  but  the  worth  of  their 
subjects  that  makes  princes  great." 

36.— My  lady  Duchess  and  my  lady  Emilia  and  all  the  others  had 
been  for  a  good  space  very  attentive  to  my  lord  Ottaviano's  dis- 
course; but  since  he  now  made  a  little  pause,  as  if  he  had  finished 
his  discourse,  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  Verily,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  it  cannot  be  said  that  your  pre- 
cepts are  not  good  and  useful;  nevertheless  I  should  think  that 
if  you  fashioned  your  prince  after  them,  you  would  rather  deserve 
the  name  of  a  good  school-master  than  of  a  good  Courtier,  and 
he  rather  that  of  a  good  governor  than  of  a  great  prince.  I  am 
far  from  saying  that  the  care  of  lords  should  not  be  to  have  their 
people  well  ruled  with  justice  and  good  uses;  nevertheless  me- 
thinks  it  is  enough  for  them  to  select  good  ministers  to  dispose 
of  such  matters,  and  that  their  true  office  is  much  greater. 

"  Therefore  if  I  felt  myself  to  be  that  excellent  Courtier  which 
these  gentlemen  have  described,  and  to  possess  the  favour  of  my 
prince,  I  certainly  should  not  lead  him  into  anything  vicious; 
but,  to  pursue  that  good  end  which  you  tell  of,  and  which  I  agree 
ought  to  be  the  fruit  of  the  Courtier's  toils  and  actions,  I  should 
seek  to  impress  upon  his  mind  a  certain  greatness,  together  with 
that  regal  splendour  and  readiness  of  mind  and  unconquered 
valour  in  war  which  should  make  him  loved  and  revered  by 
everyone  to  such  a  degree  that  he  should  be  famous  and  illus- 
trious in  the  world  chiefly  for  this.  I  should  tell  him  also  that  he 
ought  to  accompany  his  greatness  with  a  familiar  gentleness, 
with  that  sweet  and  amiable  humanity,  and  a  fine  manner  of 
caressing  both  his  subjects  and  strangers  with  discrimination, 
more  or  less  according  to  their  merits, — always  preserving,  how- 
ever, the  majesty  suited  to  his  rank,  so  as  not  to  allow  his  authority 
to  abate  one  jot  from  over-condescension,  nor  on  the  other  hand 
to  excite  hatred  by  too  stern  severity ;  that  he  ought  to  be  very 
generous  and  splendid,  and  to  give  to  all  men  without  reserve, 



because  God,  as  the  saying  runs,  is  the  treasurer  of  generous 
princes;  that  he  ought  to  give  magnificent  banquets,  festivals, 
games,  public  shows;  to  have  a  great  number  of  excellent  horses 
(for  use  in  war  and  for  pleasure  in  time  of  peace),  falcons,  hounds, 
and  all  things  else  that  pertain  to  the  pleasures  of  great  lords 
and  of  the  people:  as  in  our  days  we  have  seen  done  by  my  lord 
Francesco  Gonzaga,  Marquess  of  Mantua,  who  in  these  matters 
seems  rather  King  of  Italy  than  lord  of  a  city.*" 

"  I  should  seek  also  to  induce  him  to  erect  great  buildings,  both 
to  win  honour  in  his  lifetime  and  to  give  a  memorial  of  himself 
to  posterity:  as  Duke  Federico  did  in  the  case  of  this  noble  pal- 
ace,"' and  as  Pope  Julius  is  now  doing  in  the  case  of  St.  Peter's 
Church"'  and  of  that  street  which  leads  from  the  Palace  to  his 
pleasure  pavilion  the  Belvedere,"'  and  many  other  buildings:  as 
also  the  ancient  Romans  did,  whereof  we  see  so  many  remains 
at  Rome  and  at  Naples,  at  Pozzuoli,  at  Baja,  at  Civita  Vecchia, 
at  Porto,'"*  and  out  of  Italy  too,  and  many  other  places, — which 
are  great  proof  of  the  worth  of  those  divine  minds."'  So  did 
Alexander  the  Great  also,  for  not  content  with  the  fame  that  he 
had  justly  won  by  having  conquered  the  world  with  arms,  he 
built  Alexandria  in  Egypt,  Bucephalia  in  India,"'  and  other  cities 
in  other  countries;  and  he  thought  of  reducing  Mount  Athos  to 
the  form  of  a  man,  and  of  building  a  very  spacious  city  in  its  left 
hand,  and  in  its  right  a  great  basin  in  which  were  to  be  gathered 
all  the  rivers  that  take  their  rise  there,  and  from  it  they  were  to 
flow  over  into  the  sea:'"  a  truly  great  thought  and  one  worthy 
of  Alexander  the  Great. 

"  These,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  are  things  which  I  think  befit  a 
noble  and  true  prince,  and  make  him  very  glorious  in  peace  and 
war;  and  not  setting  his  mind  to  so  many  trifles,  and  taking  care 
to  fight  solely  in  order  to  rule  or  conquer  those  who  deserve  to 
be  ruled,  or  for  his  subjects'  profit,  or  to  deprive  those  of  power 
who  wield  it  ill.  For  if  the  Romans,  Alexander,  Hannibal  and 
the  others  had  had  these  aims,  they  would  not  have  reached  that 
height  of  glory  to  which  they  did  attain." 

37-— Then  my  lord  Ottaviano  replied,  laughing: 

"  Those  who  had  not  these  aims,  would  have  done  better  if 
they  had;  although  if  you  think,  you  will  find  many  that  did,  and 



particularly  those  first  ancients,  like  Theseus  and  Hercules. 
And  do  not  imagine  that  Procrustes  and  Sciron,  Cacus,  Diomed, 
Antaeus,  Geryon,  were  other  than  cruel  and  impious  tyrants, 
against  whom  these  lofty-minded  heroes  waged  perpetual  and 
deadly  war/"^  Therefore,  for  having  delivered  the  world  from 
such  intolerable  monsters  (for  only  thus  ought  tyrants  to  be 
called),  temples  were  raised  and  sacrifices  offered  to  Hercules, 
and  divine  honours  paid  to  him;  since  the  extirpation  of  tyrants 
is  a  benefit  so  profitable  to  the  world  that  he  who  confers  it  de- 
serves much  greater  reward  than  any  befitting  to  a  mortal.*"* 

"And  of  those  whom  you  named,  do  you  not  think  that  by  his 
victories  Alexander  did  good  to  the  peoples  whom  he  conquered, 
having  taught  so  many  good  customs  to  those  barbarous  tribes 
which  he  overcame,  that  out  of  wild  beasts  he  made  them  men? 
He  built  so  many  fine  cities  in  lands  that  were  ill-inhabited,  and 
introduced  right  living  there,  and  as  it  were  united  Asia  and 
Europe  by  the  bond  of  friendship  and  holy  laws,  that  those  who 
were  conquered  by  him  were  happier  than  the  others.  For  to 
some  he  taught  marriage,  to  others  agriculture,  to  others  religion, 
others  he  taught  not  to  kill  but  to  support  their  fathers  when 
grown  old,  others  to  abstain  from  union  with  their  mothers,  and 
a  thousand  other  things  that  could  be  told  in  proof  of  the  benefit 
w^hich  his  victories  conferred  upon  the  world. 

38.—"  But  leaving  the  ancients  aside,  what  more  noble  and  glo- 
rious enterprise  and  more  profitable  could  there  be  than  for 
Christians  to  devote  their  power  to  subjugating  the  infidels?'* 
Do  you  not  think  that  this  war,  if  it  succeeded  prosperously  and 
were  the  means  of  turning  so  many  thousand  men  from  the  false 
sect  of  Mahomet  to  the  light  of  Christian  truth,  would  be  as 
profitable  to  the  vanquished  as  to  the  victors?  And  truly,  as 
Themistocles  once  said  to  his  family,  being  banished  from  his 
native  land  and  received  by  the  King  of  Persia  and  caressed  and 
honoured  with  countless  and  very  rich  gifts:  'My  friends,  we 
should  have  been  undone  but  for  our  undoing;""  so  with  reason 
might  the  Turks  and  Moors  then  say  the  same,  because  in  their 
loss  would  lie  their  salvation. 

"  Therefore  I  hope  that  we  shall  yet  see  this  happiness,  if  God 
grant  life  enough  for  Monseigneur  d'Angouleme  to  attain  the 



crown  of  France/"*  who  gives  such  promise  of  himself  as  my  lord 
Magnifico  told  of  four  evenings  since;  and  for  my  lord  Henry, 
Prince  of  Wales/*'  to  attain  that  of  England,  who  now  is  growing 
up  under  his  great  father  in  every  sort  of  virtue,*"  like  a  tender 
shoot  under  the  shade  of  an  excellent  and  fruit-laden  tree,  to 
renew  it  with  much  greater  beauty  and  fruitfulness  when  the  time 
shall  be;  for  as  our  friend  Castiglione  writes  thence,*"  and  prom- 
ises to  tell  more  fully  on  his  return,  it  seems  that  nature  wished 
in  this  lord  to  show  her  power  by  gathering  in  a  single  body 
enough  excellences  to  adorn  a  host." 

Then  messer  Bernardo  Bibbiena  said: 

"  Very  great  promise  is  shown  also  by  Don  Carlos,  Prince  of 
Spain,  who  (although  not  yet  arrived  at  the  tenth  year  of  his  age) 
already  shows  so  much  capacity  and  such  certain  signs  of  good- 
ness, of  foresight,  of  modesty,  of  magnanimity  and  of  every 
virtue,  that  if  the  empire  of  Christendom  shall  be  (as  men  think) 
in  his  hands,  we  may  believe  that  he  must  eclipse  the  name  of 
many  ancient  emperors,  and  equal  the  fame  of  the  most  famous 
that  have  been  on  earth."*"' 

39-— My  lord  Ottaviano  added: 

"  I  think,  then,  that  such  divine  princes  as  these  have  been 
sent  by  God  on  earth,  and  by  Him  made  to  resemble  one  another 
in  youth,  in  martial  power,  in  state,  in  beauty  and  bodily  shape, 
to  the  end  that  they  may  be  of  one  accord  for  this  good  purpose 
also.  And  if  there  must  ever  be  any  envy  or  emulation  among 
them,  it  may  be  solely  in  wishing  to  be  each  the  first  and  most 
fervent  and  zealous  for  so  glorious  an  enterprise. 

"  But  let  us  leave  this  discourse  and  return  to  our  subject.  I 
say,  then,  messer  Cesare,  that  the  things  which  you  wish  the 
prince  to  do  are  very  great  and  worthy  of  much  praise;  but  you 
ought  to  understand  that  if  he  does  not  know  that  which  I  have 
said  he  ought  to  know,  and  has  not  formed  his  mind  after  that 
pattern  and  directed  it  to  the  path  of  virtue,  he  will  hardly  know 
how  to  be  magnanimous,  generous,  just,  courageous,  foreseeing, 
or  to  possess  any  of  those  other  qualities  that  are  looked  for 
in  him.  Nor  yet  would  I  have  him  such  merely  for  the  sake  of 
being  able  to  exercise  these  qualities:  for  just  as  those  who 
build  are  not  all  good  architects,  so  those  who  give  are  not 



all  generous;  because  virtue  never  harms  any  man,  and  there 
are  many  who  rob  in  order  to  give  away,  and  thus  are  generous 
with  the  property  of  others;  some  give  to  those  they  ought  not, 
and  leave  in  misfortune  and  distress  those  to  whom  they  are 
beholden;  others  give  with  a  certain  bad  grace  and  almost  spite, 
so  that  men  see  they  do  so  on  compulsion;  others  not  only  make 
no  secret  of  it,  but  call  witnesses  and  almost  proclaim  their 
generosities;  others  foolishly  empty  the  fountain  of  their  gen- 
erosity at  a  draught,  so  that  it  can  be  no  more  used  again. 

40 — "  Hence  in  this,  as  in  other  things,  it  is  needful  to  know 
and  to  govern  one's  self  with  that  foresight  which  is  the  neces- 
sary companion  of  all  the  virtues;  which  being  midway  are  near 
the  two  extremes — that  is,  the  vices;  and  thus  he  who  does  not 
know,  easily  runs  into  them.  For  just  as  it  is  difficult  to  find  the 
central  point  in  a  circle,  which  is  the  mean,  so  is  it  difficult  to 
find  the  point  of  virtue  set  midway  between  the  two  extremes 
(vicious,  the  one  because  of  excess,  the  other  because  of  de- 
ficiency); and  to  these  we  are  inclined,  sometimes  to  one  and 
sometimes  to  the  other.  'We  perceive  this  in  the  pleasure  or 
displeasure  that  we  feel  within  us,  for  by  reason  of  the  one 
we  do  that  which  we  ought  not,  and  by  reason  of  the  other  we 
fail  to  do  that  which  we  ought;  but  the  pleasure  is  much  the 
more  dangerous,  because  our  judgment  allows  itself  to  be  easily 
corrupted  by  it. 

"  But  since  it  is  a  difficult  thing  to  perceive  how  far  a  man 
is  from  the  central  point  of  virtue,  we  ought  of  our  own  accord 
to  withdraw  step  by  step  in  the  direction  opposite  to  the  extreme 
towards  which  we  perceive  ourselves  to  be  inclined,  as  those  do 
who  straighten  crooked  timbers;  for  in  such  wise  we  approxi- 
mate to  virtue,  which  (as  I  have  said)  consists  in  that  central 
point.  Hence  it  happens  that  we  err  in  many  ways  and  perform 
our  office  and  duty  in  only  one  way,  just  like  archers,  who 
hit  the  mark  by  one  way  only  and  miss  the  target  by  many. 
Thus,  in  his  wish  to  be  humane  and  affable,  one  prince  often 
does  countless  things  beneath  his  dignity,  and  so  abases  himself 
that  he  is  despised;  another,  to  preserve  his  grave  majesty  with 
becoming  authority,  becomes  austere  and  intolerable;  another, 
to  be  held  eloquent,  strays  into  a  thousand  strange  fashions  and 


long  mazes  of  affected  words,  listening  to  himself  to  such  a 
degree  that  others  cannot  listen  to  him  for  weariness. 

4i-—"  Therefore  do  not  call  anything  a  trifle,  messer  Cesare, 
that  can  improve  a  prince  in  any  particular,  however  slight 
it  be;  nor  must  you  suppose  that  I  think  you  disparage  my  pre- 
cepts when  you  say  that  by  them  a  good  governor  would  be 
fashioned  rather  than  a  good  prince;  for  perhaps  no  greater  or 
more  fitting  praise  can  be  given  to  a  prince  than  to  call  him 
a  good  governor.  Hence  if  it  lay  with  me  to  instruct  him,  I 
would  have  him  take  care  to  heed  not  only  the  matters  already 
mentioned,  but  those  which  are  much  smaller,  and  as  far  as  pos- 
sible understand  all  details  affecting  his  people,  nor  ever  so 
believe  or  trust  any  one  of  his  ministers  as  to  confide  to  that  one 
alone  the  bridle  and  control  of  all  his  government.  For  there  is 
no  man  who  is  very  apt  for  all  things,  and  much  greater  harm 
arises  from  the  credulity  of  lords  than  from  their  incredulity, 
which  not  only  sometimes  does  no  harm,  but  often  is  of  the 
greatest  advantage:  albeit  in  this  matter  there  is  need  of  good 
judgment  in  the  prince,  to  perceive  who  deserves  to  be  believed 
and  who  does  not. 

"  I  would  have  him  take  care  to  understand  the  acts  and  be 
the  overseer  of  his  ministers;  to  settle  and  shorten  disputes 
among  his  subjects;  to  be  the  means  of  making  peace  among 
them,  and  of  allying  them  in  marriage;  to  have  his  city  all  united 
and  agreed  in  friendship  like  a  private  family,  populous,  not  poor, 
peaceful,  full  of  good  artificers;  to  favour  merchants  and  even  to 
aid  them  with  money;  to  be  generous  and  splendid  in  hospitality 
towards  foreigners  and  ecclesiastics;  to  moderate  all  superflu- 
ities, for  through  the  errours  that  are  committed  in  these  matters, 
small  though  they  seem,  cities  often  come  to  ruin.  Wherefore  it 
is  reasonable  that  the  prince  should  set  a  limit  upon  the  too 
sumptuous  houses  of  private  folk,  upon  feasts,  upon  the  excessive 
doweries  of  women,  upon  their  luxury,  upon  their  display  in 
jewels  and  vesture,  which  is  naught  but  a  proof  of  their  folly; 
for  besides  often  wasting  their  husbands'  goods  and  substance 
through  the  ambition  and  the  envy  which  they  bear  one  another, 
they  sometimes  sell  their  honour  to  anyone  who  will  buy  it,  for 
the  sake  of  a  trinket  or  some  other  like  trifle." 



42.— Then  messer  Bernardo  Bibbiena  said,  laughing: 

"  My  lord  Ottaviano,  you  are  taking  sides  with  my  lord  Gaspar 
and  Frisio." 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied,  also  laughing: 

"  The  dispute  is  finished,  and  I  am  far  from  wishing  to  renew 
it;  so  I  shall  say  no  more  of  women,  but  return  to  my  prince." 

Frisio  replied: 

"  You  can  very  well  leave  him  now,  and  rest  content  that  he 
should  be  such  as  you  have  described  him.  For  without  doubt 
it  would  be  easier  to  find  a  lady  with  the  qualities  mentioned  by 
my  lord  Magnifico,  than  a  prince  with  the  qualities  mentioned 
by  you;  hence  I  fear  that  he  is  like  Plato's  Republic,  and  that  we 
are  never  to  see  his  equal,  unless  perhaps  in  Heaven." 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"  Although  they  be  difficult,  things  that  are  possible  may  still 
be  hoped  to  come  to  pass.  Therefore  we  shall  in  our  times  per- 
haps yet  see  him  on  earth;  for  although  the  heavens  are  so  chary 
of  producing  excellent  princes  that  hardly  one  is  seen  in  many 
centuries,  this  good  fortune  may  fall  to  us." 

Then  Count  Ludovico  said: 

"  I  certainly  trust  that  it  may  be  so;  for,  besides  those  three 
great  princes  whom  we  have  named,  to  whom  w^e  may  look  for 
that  which  has  been  said  to  befit  the  highest  type  of  a  perfect 
prince, — there  are  also  to  be  found  in  Italy  to-day  several  princes' 
sons,  who,  although  they  are  not  likely  to  have  such  great  power, 
will  perhaps  fill  its  place  with  worth.  And  the  one  among  them 
all  who  shows  the  best  natural  bent,  and  gives  greater  promise 
than  any  of  the  others,  seems  to  me  to  be  my  lord  Federico  Gon- 
zaga,  eldest  son  of  the  Marquess  of  Mantua  and  nephew  to  our 
lady  Duchess  here.*"  For  besides  the  gentleness  of  behaviour 
and  the  discretion  which  he  shows  at  such  a  tender  age,  those 
who  have  charge  of  him  tell  wonderful  things  of  his  capacity, 
eagerness  for  honour,  magnanimity,  courtesy,  generosity,  love 
of  justice;  so  that  from  so  good  a  beginning  we  cannot  but  hope 
for  the  best  of  ends." 

Then  Frisio  said: 

"  No  more  of  this  at  present;  we  will  pray  God  that  we  may 
see  this  hope  of  yours  fulfilled." 



43'— Here  my  lord  Ottaviano,  turning  to  my  lady  Duchess  with 
an  air  of  having  finished  his  discourse,  said: 

"  There,  my  Lady,  is  what  occurs  to  me  to  say  about  the  aim 
of  the  Courtier;  wherein,  if  I  shall  not  have  wholly  given  satis- 
faction, it  will  at  least  be  enough  for  me  to  have  shown  that 
some  further  perfection  could  be  given  him  in  addition  to  the 
things  mentioned  by  these  gentlemen;  who,  methinks,  omitted 
both  this  and  all  that  I  might  say,  not  because  they  did  not  know 
it  better  than  I,  but  in  order  to  save  themselves  trouble;  there- 
fore I  will  leave  them  to  continue,  if  they  have  anything  left  to 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"Not  only  is  the  hour  so  late  that  it  will  soon  be  time  to  stop 
for  the  evening,  but  it  seems  to  me  that  we  ought  not  to  mingle 
any  other  discourse  with  this;  wherein  you  have  gathered  so 
many  different  and  beautiful  things,  that  we  may  say  (touching 
the  aim  of  Courtiership)  not  only  that  you  are  the  perfect  Courtier 
whom  we  seek,  and  competent  to  instruct  your  prince  rightly, 
but  if  fortune  shall  be  favourable  to  you,  that  you  ought  also  to 
be  an  admirable  prince,  which  would  be  of  great  advantage  to 
your  country.""" 

My  lord  Ottaviano  laughed,  and  said: 

"  If  I  held  such  rank,  my  Lady,  perhaps  it  would  be  with  me  as 
it  is  wont  to  be  with  many  others,  who  know  better  how  to  speak 
than  to  act." 

44-— Here  the  matter  having  been  debated  back  and  forth  awhile 
among  the  whole  company,  with  some  little  contradiction  albeit 
in  praise  of  what  had  been  said,  and  it  being  suggested  that  it 
was  not  yet  time  to  go  to  rest,  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  said, 

**  My  Lady,  I  am  so  great  an  enemy  to  guile,  that  I  am  forced 
to  contradict  my. lord  Ottaviano,  who,  from  having  (as  I  fear) 
conspired  secretly  with  my  lord  Gaspar  against  women,  has  fallen 
into  two  errours  to  my  thinking  very  grave :  one  of  which  is,  that  in 
order  to  set  this  Courtier  above  the  Court  Lady  and  make  him 
transcend  the  bounds  that  she  can  reach,  my  lord  Ottaviano  has 
set  the  Courtier  also  above  the  prince,  which  is  most  unseemly; 
the  other  is  in  setting  him  such  a  goal  that  it  is  always  difficult, 



and  sometimes  impossible  for  him  to  reach  it,  and  that  even  when 
he  does  reach  it,  he  ought  not  to  be  called  a  Courtier." 

♦'  I  do  not  understand,"  said  my  lady  Emilia,  "  how  it  should  be 
so  difficult  or  impossible  for  the  Courtier  to  reach  this  goal  of  his, 
nor  yet  how  my  lord  Ottaviano  has  set  him  above  the  prince."'" 

"  Do  not  grant  him  these  things,"  replied  my  lord  Ottaviano, 
*«  for  I  have  not  set  the  Courtier  above  the  prince,  nor  do  I  think 
I  have  fallen  into  any  errour  touching  the  aim  of  Courtiership." 

Then  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"  You  cannot  say,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  that  the  cause  which 
gives  a  certain  quality  to  a  result,  does  not  always  have  more  of 
that  quality  than  its  result  has.  Thus  the  Courtier,  through 
whose  instruction  the  prince  is  to  become  so  excellent,  must 
needs  be  more  excellent  than  his  prince;  and  in  this  way  he  will 
also  be  of  greater  dignity  than  the  prince  himself,  which  is  most 

•'  Then,  as  for  the  aim  of  Courtiership,  what  you  said  may  be 
true  when  the  prince's  age  is  little  different  from  the  Courtier's, 
but  still  not  without  difficulty,  for  where  there  is  small  difference 
in  age,  it  is  natural  that  there  should  be  small  difference  in  know- 
ledge also;  while  if  the  prince  is  old  and  the  Courtier  young,  it  is 
fitting  that  the  old  prince  should  know  more  than  the  young 
Courtier;  and  if  this  does  not  always  happen,  it  happens  some- 
times, and  then  the  goal  which  you  set  the  Courtier  is  impossible. 
Again,  if  the  prince  is  young  and  the  Courtier  old,  the  Courtier 
can  hardly  win  the  prince's  mind  by  means  of  those  accomplish- 
ments that  you  have  ascribed  to  him.  For  to  say  the  truth, 
jousting  and  other  exercises  of  the  person  belong  to  young  men 
and  do  not  befit  old  men,  and  music  and  dancing  and  festivals 
and  games  and  love-making  are  ridiculous  in  old  age;  and  me- 
thinks  they  would  be  very  ill-befitting  a  director  of  the  prince's 
life  and  behaviour,  who  ought  to  be  a  very  sober  person  of 
authority,  mature  in  years  and  experience,  and  (if  possible)  a 
good  philosopher,  a  good  commander,  and  ought  to  know  almost 

"  Therefore  I  think  that  whoever  instructs  the  prince  ought 
not  to  be  called  a  Courtier,  but  deserves  a  far  higher  and  more 
honoured  name.  So  pardon  me,  my  lord  Ottaviano,  if  I  have  ex- 


posed  your  fallacy;  for  methinks  I  am  bound  to  do  so  for  the 
honour  of  my  Lady,  whom  you,  forsooth,  would  have  of  less  dig- 
nity than  this  Courtier  of  yours,  and  I  will  not  allow  it." 

45 — My  lord  Ottaviano  laughed,  and  said: 

"  My  lord  Magnifico,  it  would  be  more  praise  to  the  Court  Lady 
to  exalt  her  until  she  equalled  the  Courtier,  than  to  abase  the 
Courtier  until  he  equalled  the  Court  Lady;  for  it  would  be  by  no 
means  forbidden  the  Lady  to  teach  the  mistress  also,  and  with  her 
to  tend  towards  that  aim  of  Courtiership  which  I  said  befits  the 
Courtier  with  the  prince.  But  you  seek  more  to  censure  the 
Courtier  than  to  praise  the  Court  Lady;  hence  I  too  shall  be 
allowed  to  take  the  Courtier's  part. 

"  To  reply,  then,  to  your  objections,  I  declare  I  did  not  say  that 
the  Courtier's  instruction  ought  to  be  the  sole  cause  of  making 
the  prince  such  as  we  would  have  him.  For  if  he  were  not  by 
nature  inclined  and  fitted  to  be  so,  all  the  Courtier's  care  and  re- 
minders would  be  in  vain:  just  as  any  good  husbandman  also 
would  labour  in  vain  if  he  were  to  set  about  cultivating  barren 
sea-sand  and  sowing  it  with  excellent  seed,  because  such  barren- 
ness is  natural  in  that  place;  but  when  to  good  seed  in  fertile 
soil,  and  to  mildness  of  climate  and  rains  suited  to  the  season, 
there  is  added  also  the  diligence  of  human  culture,  very  abundant 
crops  are  always  found  to  spring  up  plenteously.  Nor  is  it  on 
that  account  true  that  the  husbandman  alone  is  the  cause  of  this, 
although  without  him  all  the  other  things  would  avail  little  or 
nothing.  Thus  there  are  many  princes  who  would  be  good  if 
their  minds  were  rightly  cultivated;  and  it  is  of  these  that  I  am 
speaking,  not  of  those  who  are  like  barren  ground,  and  by  nature 
so  alien  to  good  behaviour  that  no  training  avails  to  lead  their 
minds  in  the  straight  path. 

46.—"  And  since,  as  we  have  already  said,  our  habits  are  what 
our  actions  make  them,  and  virtue  consists  in  action,  it  is  not 
impossible  or  marvellous  that  the  Courtier  should  turn  the  prince 
to  many  virtues,  like  justice,  generosity,  magnanimity,  the  prac- 
tice whereof  the  prince  by  his  greatness  can  easily  put  in  use  and 
convert  into  habit;  which  the  Courtier  cannot  do,  because  he 
has  not  the  means  to  practise  them;  and  thus  the  prince,  allured 
to  virtue  by  the  Courtier,  may  become  more  virtuous  than  the 



Courtier.  Moreover  you  must  know  that  the  whetstone,  although 
it  cuts  nothing,  yet  makes  iron  sharp.  Hence  it  seems  to  me 
that  although  the  Courtier  instructs  the  prince,  he  need  not  on 
that  account  be  said  to  be  of  more  dignity  than  the  prince. 

"  That  the  aim  of  this  Courtiership  is  difficult  and  sometimes 
impossible,  and  that  even  when  the  Courtier  attains  it,  he  ought 
not  to  be  called  a  Courtier,  but  deserves  a  greater  name, —  I  say 
that  I  do  not  deny  this  difficulty,  since  it  is  not  less  difficult  to 
find  so  excellent  a  Courtier  than  to  attain  such  an  end.  Yet  me- 
thinks  there  is  no  impossibility,  even  in  the  case  that  you  cited: 
for  if  the  Courtier  is  too  young  to  know  that  which  we  have  said 
he  ought  to  know,  we  need  not  speak  of  him,  since  he  is  not  the 
Courtier  we  are  presupposing,  nor  is  it  possible  that  one  who 
has  to  know  so  many  things  should  be  very  young. 

"  And  if,  indeed,  the  prince  shall  chance  to  be  so  wise  and  good 
by  nature  that  he  has  no  need  of  precepts  and  counsel  from 
others  (although  everyone  knows  how  difficult  this  is),  it  will  be 
enough  for  the  Courtier  to  be  such  a  man  as  could  make  the 
prince  virtuous  if  he  had  need  of  it.  And  then  the  Courtier  will 
be  at  least  able  to  perform  the  other  part  of  his  duty, — not  to 
allow  his  prince  to  be  deceived,  always  to  make  known  the  truth 
about  everything,  and  to  set  himself  against  flatterers  and  slan- 
derers and  all  those  who  plot  to  debase  his  prince's  mind  with 
unworthy  pleasures.  And  in  this  way  he  will  also  attain  his 
end  in  great  part,  although  he  cannot  put  everything  in  practice: 
which  will  not  be  a  reason  for  finding  fault  with  him,  since  he 
refrains  therefrom  for  so  good  a  cause.  For  if  an  excellent  phy- 
sician were  to  find  himself  in  a  place  where  everyone  was  in 
health,  it  would  not  for  that  reason  be  right  to  say  that  this  phy- 
sician failed  in  his  aim,  although  he  healed  no  sick.  Thus,  just 
as  the  physician's  aim  ought  to  be  men's  health,  so  the  Courtier's 
ought  to  be  his  prince's  virtue;  and  it  is  enough  for  them  both  to 
have  their  aim  latent  within  their  power,  if  their  failure  to  attain 
it  openly  in  acts  arises  from  the  subject  to  which  the  aim  is 

"  But  if  the  Courtier  were  so  old  that  it  would  not  become  him 
to  practise  music,  festivals,  games,  arms,  and  the  other  personal 
accomplishments,  still  we  cannot  say  that  it  is  impossible  for  him 


to  win  his  prince's  favour  by  that  road.  For  if  his  age  prevents 
his  practising  those  things,  it  does  not  prevent  his  understanding 
them,  and  if  he  has  practised  them  in  his  youth,  it  does  not  pre- 
vent his  having  the  more  perfect  judgment  regarding  them,  and 
his  knowing  the  more  perfectly  how  to  teach  them  to  his  prince, 
in  proportion  as  years  and  experience  bring  more  knowledge  of 
everything.  Thus,  although  the  old  Courtier  does  not  practise 
the  accomplishments  ascribed  to  him,  he  will  yet  attain  his  aim 
of  instructing  his  prince  rightly. 

47-— "And  if  you  are  unwilling  to  call  him  Courtier,  it  does  not 
trouble  me;  for  nature  has  not  set  such  limit  upon  human  digni- 
ties that  a  man  may  not  mount  from  one  to  another.  Thus,  com- 
mon soldiers  often  become  captains;  private  persons,  kings;  and 
priests,  popes;  and  pupils,  masters;  and  thus,  together  with  the 
dignity,  they  acquire  the  name  also.  Hence  perhaps  we  might 
say  that  to  become  his  prince's  instructor  was  the  Courtier's  aim. 
However,  I  do  not  know  who  would  refuse  this  name  of  perfect 
Courtier,  which  in  my  opinion  is  worthy  of  very  great  praise. 
And  it  seems  to  me  that  just  as  Homer  described  two  most  ex- 
cellent men  as  patterns  of  human  life, — the  one  in  deeds  (which 
was  Achilles),  the  other  in  sufferings  and  endurance  (which  was 
Ulysses), — so  also  he  described  a  perfect  Courtier  (which  was 
Phoenix),  who,  after  narrating  his  loves  and  many  other  youthful 
affairs,  says  that  he  was  sent  to  Achilles  by  the  latter's  father, 
Peleus,  as  a  companion  and  to  teach  the  youth  how  to  speak  and 
act:  which  is  naught  else  but  the  aim  which  we  have  marked 
out  for  our  Courtier.*"* 

"  Nor  do  I  think  that  Aristotle  and  Plato  would  have  scorned 
the  name  of  perfect  Courtier,  for  we  clearly  see  that  they  per- 
formed the  works  of  Courtiership  and  wrought  to  this  end, — the 
one  with  Alexander  the  Great,  the  other  with  the  kings  of  Sicily. 
And  since  the  office  of  a  good  Courtier  is  to  know  the  prince's 
character  and  inclinations,  and  thus  to  enter  tactfully  into  his 
favour  according  to  need  and  opportunity,  as  we  have  said,  by 
those  ways  that  afford  safe  access,  and  then  to  lead  him  towards 
virtue, — Aristotle  so  well  knew  the  character  of  Alexander,  and 
tactfully  fostered  it  so  well,  that  he  was  loved  and  honoured 
more  than  a  father  by  Alexander."'    Thus,  among  many  other 



tokens  that  Alexander  gave  him  of  good  will,  the  king  ordered 
the  rebuilding  of  his  native  city,  Stagira,  which  had  been  de- 
stroyed;'"'  and  besides  directing  Alexander  to  that  most  glorious 
aim, — which  was  the  desire  to  make  the  world  as  one  single 
universal  country,  and  all  men  as  a  single  people  to  live  in  amity 
and  mutual  concord  under  a  single  government  and  a  single  law, 
which  should  shine  equally  on  all  like  the  light  of  the  sun,*^ — 
Aristotle  so  instructed  him  in  the  natural  sciences  and  in  the 
virtues  of  the  mind  as  to  make  him  most  wise,  brave,  continent, 
and  a  true  moral  philosopher,  not  only  in  words  but  in  deeds; 
for  a  nobler  philosophy  cannot  be  imagined  than  to  bring  into 
civilized  living  such  savage  people  as  those  who  inhabited  Bac- 
tria  and  Caucasia,  India,  Scythia;""  and  to  teach  them  marriage, 
agriculture,  honour  to  their  fathers,  abstention  from  rapine, 
murder  and  other  evil  ways;  to  build  so  many  very  noble  cities 
in  distant  lands; — so  that  countless  men  were  by  his  laws  reduced 
from  savage  life  to  civilization.  And  of  these  achievements  of 
Alexander  the  author  was  Aristotle,  using  the  means  of  a  good 
Courtier:  which  Callisthenes  knew  not  how^  to  do,  although 
Aristotle  showed  him;"'  for  in  his  wish  to  be  a:  pure  philosopher 
and  austere  minister  of  naked  truth,  without  mingling  Courtier- 
ship  therewith,  he  lost  his  life  and  brought  not  help  but  rather 
infamy  to  Alexander, 

"  By  these  same  means  of  Courtiership,  Plato  schooled  Dio 
of  Syracuse;*"  and  having  afterwards  found  the  tyrant  Dionysius 
like  a  book  all  full  of  faults  and  errours  and  in  need  of  complete 
erasure  rather  than  of  any  change  or  correction  (since  it  was  not 
possible  to  remove  from  him  that  tinge  of  tyranny  wherewith  he 
had  so  long  been  stained),  Plato  was  unwilling  to  practise  the 
ways  of  Courtiership  upon  him,  thinking  that  they  all  would 
surely  be  in  vain.  Which  our  Courtier  also  ought  to  do,  if  by 
chance  he  finds  himself  in  the  service  of  a  prince  of  so  evil  a  dis- 
position as  to  be  inveterate  in  vice,  like  consumptives  in  their  mal- 
ady; for  in  such  case  he  ought  to  escape  that  bondage,  in  order 
not  to  receive  blame  for  his  lord's  evil  deeds,  and  in  order  not  to 
feel  that  distress  which  all  good  men  feel  who  serve  the  wicked." 

48.— Here  my  lord  Ottaviano  having  ceased  speaking,  my  lord 
Caspar  said: 



"  I  did  not  in  the  least  suspect  that  our  Courtier  was  so  hon- 
oured; but  since  Aristotle  and  Plato  are  his  fellows,  I  think  that 
no  one  ought  henceforth  to  scorn  this  name.  Still  I  am  far  from 
sure  whether  I  believe  that  Aristotle  and  Plato  ever  danced 
or  made  music  in  their  lives,  or  performed  any  other  acts  of 

My  lord  Ottaviano  replied: 

"  It  is  hardly  permitted  to  think  that  these  two  divine  spirits 
did  not  know  everything,  and  hence  we  may  believe  that  they 
practised  what  pertains  to  Courtiership,  for  on  occasion  they 
write  of  it  in  such  fashion  that  the  very  masters  of  the  subjects 
written  of  by  them  perceive  that  they  understood  the  same  to 
the  marrow  and  deepest  roots.  Wherefore  there  is  no  ground 
for  saying  that  all  the  accomplishments  ascribed  to  him  by  these 
gentlemen  do  not  befit  a  Courtier  (or  instructor  of  the  prince, 
as  you  like  to  call  him)  who  contributes  to  that  good  end  which 
we  have  mentioned,  even  though  he  were  a  very  stern  philos- 
opher and  most  saintly  in  his  behaviour,  because  they  are 
not  at  variance  with  goodness,  discretion,  wisdom,  worth,  at 
every  age  and  in  every  time  and  place." 

49-— Then  my  lord  Caspar  said: 

"  I  remember  that  in  discussing  the  accomplishments  of  the 
Courtier  last  evening,  these  gentlemen  desired  that  he  should  be 
in  love;  and  since,  by  reviewing  what  has  thus  far  been  said,  we 
might  conclude  that  a  Courtier  who  has  to  allure  his  prince  to 
virtue  by  his  worth  and  authority,  must  almost  of  necessity  be 
old  (because  knowledge  very  rarely  comes  before  years,  and 
especially  in  those  things  that  are  learned  by  experience), —  I  do 
not  know  how  becoming  it  is  for  him  (being  advanced  in  age)  to 
be  in  love.  For  as  has  been  said  this  evening,  love  does  not  sit 
well  upon  old  men,  and  those  things  which  in  young  men  are 
delights,  courtesies  and  elegances  very  pleasing  to  women,  in 
old  men  are  extravagances  and  ridiculous  incongruities,  and  for 
him  who  practises  them  win  hatred  from  women  and  derision 
from  others. 

"  So  if  your  friend  Aristotle,  the  old  Courtier,  were  in  love,  and 
did  those  things  which  young  lovers  do,  like  some  whom  we 
have  seen  in  our  days, — I  fear  he  would  forget  to  instruct  his 



prince,  and  perhaps  children  would  mock  at  him  behind  his 
back,  and  women  would  get  little  pleasure  from  him  except  to 
deride  him." 

Then  my  lord  Ottaviano  said: 

"As  all  the  other  accomplishments  ascribed  to  the  Courtier 
befit  him  although  he  be  old,  methinks  we  ought  by  no  means  to 
deprive  him  of  this  enjoyment  of  loving." 

"  Nay,"  said  my  lord  Gaspar,  "  to  deprive  him  of  love  is  to  give 
him  an  added  perfection,  and  to  make  him  live  at  ease  remote 
from  misery  and  calamity."     — ,.^ 

50 — Messer  Pietro  Bembo  said:^ 

"  Do  you  not  remember,  my  lord  Gaspar,  that  although  he  is 
little  skilled  in  love,  yet  in  his  game  the  other  evening  my  lord 
Ottaviano  seemed  to  know  that  there  are  some  lovers  who  call 
sweet  the  scorns  and  ires  and  warrings  and  torments  which  they 
have  from  their  ladies ;  whence  he  asked  to  be  taught  the  cause 
of  this  sweetness?  Therefore  if  our  Courtier,  although  old,  were 
inflamed  with  those  loves  that  are  sweet  without  bitterness,  he 
would  feel_  no  calamity  or  misery  in  them ;  and  if  he  were  wise,  as 
we  suppose  him  to  be,  he  would  not  deceive  himself  by  thinking 
that  all  was  befitting  to  him  which  befits  young  men;  but  if  he 
loved,  perhaps  he  would  love  in  a  way  that  would  bring  him  not 
only  no  blame,  but  much  praise  and  highest  happiness  unaccom- 
panied by  any  pain,  which  rarely  and  almost  never  happens  with 
young  men;  and  thus  he  would  not  fail  to  instruct  his  prince,  nor 
would  he  do  aught  to  deserve  the  mockery  of  children." 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  said: 

"  I  am  glad,  messer  Pietro,  that  you  have  had  little  fatigue  in 
our  discussion  this  evening,  for  now  we  shall  with  more  assurance 
impose  on  you  the  burden  of  speaking,  and  of  teaching  the  Cour- 
tier this  love  which  is  so  happy  that  it  brings  with  it  neither  blame 
nor  discomfort;  for  perhaps  it  will  be  one  of  the  most  important 
and  useful  attributes  that  have  thus  far  been  ascribed  to  him: 
therefore  tell  us,  on  your  faith,  all  you  know  about  it." 

Messer  Pietro  laughed,  and  said: 

"  I  should  be  sorry,  my  Lady,  that  my  saying  it  is  permissible 
for  old  men  to  love  should  be  a  reason  for  these  ladies  to  regard 
me  as  old;  therefore  please  to  give  this  task  to  someone  else."'" 


My  lady  Duchess  replied: 

"  You  ought  not  to  shun  being  reputed  old  in  wisdom,  even  if 
you  are  young  in  years;  so  speak  on,  and  make  no  more  excuse." 

Messer  Pietro  said: 

*'  Indeed,  my  Lady,  if  I  must  talk  about  this  matter,  I  should 
need  to  go  take  counsel  with  my  Lavinello's  Hermit.'"" 

Then  my  lady  Emilia  said,  half  vexed: 

"  Messer  Pietro,  there  is  no  one  in  the  company  who  is  mociL- 
disobedient  than  you;  therefore  it  will  be  well  for  my  lady  Duch- 
ess to  inflict  some  chastisement  upon  you,." 

Messer  Pietro  said,  again  smiling_^> 

"  Be  not  angry  with  me,  my  Lady,  for  love  of  God;  for  I  will 
tell  what  you  wish." 

"  Then  tell  it  at  once,"  replied  my  lady  Emilia. 

51 — Whereupon  messer  Pietro,  having  first  remained  silent 
awhile,  then  settled  himself  a  little  as  if  about  to  speak  of  some- 
thing important,  and  spoke  thus:*" 

"  My  Lords,  in  order  to  prove  that  old  men  can  love  not  only 
without  blame  but  sometimes  more  happily  than  young  men,  it 
will  be  needful  for  me  to  make  a  little  discourse  to  explain  what 
love  is,  and  in  what  consists  the  happiness  that  lovers  may  enjoy. 
So  i  pray  you  hear  me  with  attention,  for  I  hope  to  make  you  see 
that  there  is  no  man  here  whom  it  does  not  become  to  be  in  love, 
even  though  he  were  fifteen  or  twenty  years  older  than  my  lord 

And  then  after  some  laughter,  messer  Pietro  continued: 

"  I  say,  then,  that  according  to  the  definition  of  the  ancient  sages 
love  is^iaught  but  a  certain  desire  to  enjoy  beauty;  and  as  de- 
sire longs  only  for  things  that  are  perceived,  perception  must 
needs  always  precede  desire,  which  by  its  nature  wishes  good 
things^  but  in  itself  is  blind  and  does  not  perceive  them.  There- 
fore nature  has  so  ordained  that  to  every  faculty  of  perception 
there  is  joined  a  certain  faculty  of  appetite;  and  since  in  our  soul 
there  are  three  modes  of  perceiving,  that  is,  by  sense,  by  reason, 
and  by  intellect:  from  sense  springs  appetite,  which  we  have  in 
common  with  the  brutes ;  from  reason  springs  choice,  which  is 
peculiar  to  man;  from  the  intellect,  by  which  man  is  able  to  com- 
mune with  the  angels,  springs  will.    Thus,  just  as  sense  perceives 



■  '-^ 

A-^S./'    ,-^R; 


Much  enlarged  from  a  photographic  print  of  a  medal  in  the  King's  Library,  British 
Museum.  This  is  probably  the  medal  for  which  Benvenuto  Cellini  (1500- 1573),  in  his 
autobiography,  describes  making  a  sketch  from  life  in  1537.  See  j£mile  Molinier's 
monograph  on  Cellini  in  the  series,  Les  Artistes  Celibres,  published  at  Paris  by  the 
JjibrairU  de  I' Art,  p.  33  ;  and  Armand's  Let  Midailleurs  Italiens,  i,  ijo. 



only  things  that  are  perceptible  by  the  senses,  appetite  desires 
the  same  only;  and  just  as  intellect  is  directed  solely  to  the  con- 
templation of  things  intellectual,  the  will  feeds  only  upon  spiritual 
benefits.  Being  by  nature  rational  and  placed  as  a  mean  between 
these  two  extremes,  man  can  at  pleasure  (by  descending  to  sense 
or  mounting  to  intellect)  turn  his  desires  now  in  the  one  direc- 
tion and  now  in  the  other.  In  these  two  ways,  therefore,  it  is 
possible  to  desire  beauty,  which  universal  name  applies  to  all/ 
things  (whether  natural  or  artificial)  that  are  framed  in  good 
proportion  and  due  measure  according  to  their  nature. 

52.—"  But  speaking  of  the  beauty  we  have  in  mind,  which  is  only 
that  which  is  seen  in  the  bodies  and  especially  in  the  faces  of 
men,  and  which  excites  this  ardent  desire  that  we  call  love, — we 
will  say  that  it  is  an  effluence  of  divine  goodness,  and  that  al- 
though it  is  diffused  like  the  sun's  light  upon  all  created  things, 
yet  when  it  finds  a  face  well  proportioned  and  framed  with  a 
certain  pleasant  harmony  of  various  colours  embellished  by 
lights  and  shadows  and  by  an  orderly  distance  and  limit  of  out- 
lines, it  infuses  itself  therein  and  appears  most  beautiful,  and 
adorns  and  illumines  that  object  whereon  it  shines  with  grace  and 
wonderful  splendour,  like  a  sunbeam  falling  upon  a  beautiful  vase 
of  polished  gold  set  with  precious  gems.  Thus  it  agreeably  at- 
tracts the  eyes  of  men,  and  entering  thereby,  it  impresses  itself 
upon  the  soul,  and  stirs  and  delights  her  with  a  new  sweetness 
throughout,  and  by  kindling  her  it  excites  in  her  a  desire  for  its 
own  self.  . ^ 

"  Then,  being  seized  with  desire  to  enjoy  this  beauty  as  some- 
thing good,  if  the  soul  allows  herself  to  be  guided  by  the 
judgment  of  sense,  she  runs  into  very  grievous  errours,  and 
judges  that  the  body  wherein  the  beauty  is  seen  is  the  chief 
cause  thereof;  and  hence,  in  order  to  enjoy  that  beauty,  she 
deems  it  necessary  to  join  herself  as  closely  to  that  body  as  she 
can;  which  is  false:  and  accordingly,  whoever  thinks  to  enjoy 
the  beauty  by  possessing  the  body  deceives  himself,  and  is 
moved,  not  by  true  perception  through  reasonable  choice,  but  by 
false  opinion  through  sensual  appetite:  wherefore  the  pleasure 
also  that  results  therefrom  is  necessarily  false  and  vicious. 

"  Hence  all  those  lovers  who  satisfy  their  unchaste  desires 


with  the  women  whom  they  love,  run  into  one  of  two  errours: 
for  as  soon  as  they  have  attained  the  end  desired,  they  either  not 
only  feel  satiety  and-  tedium,  but  hate  the  beloved  object  as 
if  appetite  repented  its  errour  and  perceived  the  deceit  practised 
upon  it  by  the  false  judgment  of  sense,  which  made  it  believe 
evil  to  be  good;  or  else  they  remain  in  the  same  desire  and  long- 
ing, like  those  who  have  not  truly  attained  the  end  they  sought. 
And  although,  by  reason  of  the  blind  opinion  wherewith  they  are 
intoxicated,  they  think  they  feel  pleasure  at  the  moment,  as  the 
sick  sometimes  dream  of  drinking  at  some  clear  spring,  never- 
theless they  are  not  contented  or  appeased.  And  since  the  pos- 
session of  a  wished-for  joy  always  brings  quiet  and  satisfaction 
to  the  mind  of  the  possessor,  if  that  joy  were  the  true  and  worthy 
object  of  their  desire,  they  would  remain  quiet  and  satisfied 
in  possessing  it;  which  they  do  not.  Nay,  deceived  by  that 
likeness,  they  soon  return  to  unbridled  desire,  and  with  the  same 
distress  they  felt  at  first,  they  find  themselves  furiously  and  very 
ardently  athirst  for  that  which  they  vainly  hope  to  possess  per- 

"Such  lovers  as  these,  therefore,  love  most  unhappily;  for 
either  they  never  attain  their  desires  (which  is  great  unhappi- 
ness),  or  if  they  do  attain  thereto,  they  find  they  have  attained 
their  woe,  and  finish  their  miseries  with  other  miseries  still 
greater;  because  even  in  the  beginning  and  midst  of  their  love 
naught  else  is  ever  felt  but  anguish,  torments,  sorrows,  suffer- 
ings, toils.  So  that  to  be  pale,  melancholy,  in  continual  tears 
and  sighs,  to  be  sad,  to  be  ever  silent  or  lamenting,  to  long  for 
death,  in  short,  to  be  most  unhappy,  are  the  conditions  that 
are  said  to  befit  lovers. 

53 — "  The  cause,  then,  of  this  havoc  in  the  minds  of  men  is 
chiefly  sense,  which  is  very  potent  in  youth,  because  the  vigour 
of  flesh  and  blood  at  that  period  gives  to  it  as  much  strength  as 
it  takes  away  from  reason,  and  hence  easily  leads  the  soul 
to  follow  appetite.  For,  finding  herself  plunged  into  an  earthly 
prison  and  deprived  of  spiritual  contemplation  by  being  set  the 
task  of  governing  the  body,  the  soul  cannot  of  herself  clearly 
comprehend  the  truth;  wherefore,  in  order  to  have  perception 
of  things,  she  must  needs  go  begging  first  notions  from  the 



senses,  and  so  she  believes  them  and  bows  before  them  and 
allows  herself  to  be  guided  by  them,  especially  when  they  have 
so  much  vigour  that  they  almost  force  her;  and  as  they  are 
fallacious,  they  fill  her  with  errours  and  false  opinions. 

"  Hence  it  nearly  always  happens  that  young  men  are  wrapped 
in  this  love  which  is  sensual  and  wholly  rebellious  to  reason, 
and  thus  they  become  unworthy  to  enjoy  the  graces  and  benefits 
which  love  bestows  upon  its  true  subjects;  nor  do  they  feel  any 
pleasures  in  love  beyond  those  which  the  unreasoning  animals 
feel,  but  anguish  far  more  grievous. 

"This  premise  being  admitted  then, —  and  it  is  most  true, — 
I  say  that  the  contrary  happens  to  those  who  are  of  maturer 
age.  For  if  such  as  these  (when  the  soul  is  already  less 
weighed  down  by  bodily  heaviness  and  when  the  natural  heat 
begins  to  become  tepid)  are  inflamed  by  beauty  and  turn  thereto 
a  desire  guided  by  rational  choice, —  they  are  not  deceived,  and 
possess  beauty  perfectly.  Therefore  their  possession  of  it  al- 
ways brings  them  good;  because  beauty  is  good,  and  hence  true 
love  of  beauty  is  most  good  and  holy,  and  always  works  for 
good  in  the  mind  of  those  who  restrain  the  perversity  of  sense 
with  the  bridle  of  reason;  which  the  old  can  do  much  more 
easily  than  the  young. 

54-—"  Hence  it  is  not  beyond  reason  to  say  further  that  the  old 
can  love  without  blame  and  more  happily  than  the  young; 
taking  this  word  old,  however,  not  in  the  sense  of  decrepit,  nor 
when  the  bodily  organs  have  already  become  so  weak  that  the 
soul  cannot  perform  its  functions  through  them,  but  when  our 
knowledge  is  at  its  true  prime. 

"  I  will  not  refrain  from  saying  also  this:  which  is,  that  I  think 
that  although  sensual  love  is  evil  at  every  age,  yet  in  the  young 
it  deserves  excuse,  and  is  perhaps  in  a  measure  permitted.  For 
although  it  gives  them  anguish,  dangers,  toils,  and  those  woes 
that  have  been  told,  still  there  are  many  who,  to  win  the  favour 
of  the  ladies  of  their  love,  do  worthy  acts,  which  (although  not 
directed  to  a  good  end)  are  intrinsically  good;  and  thus  from 
that  mass  of  bitterness  they  extract  a  little  sweet,  and  through 
the  adversities  which  they  endure  they  at  last  perceive  their 
errour.     Hence,  just  as  I  deem  those  youths  divine  who  control 


their  appetites  and  love  in  reason,  so  I  excuse  those  who  allow 
themselves  to  be  overcome  by  sensual  love,  to  which  they  are  so 
strongly  inclined  by  human  frailty:  provided  they  show  therein 
gentleness,  courtesy  and  worth,  and  the  other  noble  qualities  of 
which  these  gentlemen  have  told;  and  provided  that  when  they 
are  no  longer  of  youthful  age,  they  abandon  it  altogether,  shun- 
ning this  sensual  desire  as  it  were  the  lowest  round  of  the  ladder 
by  which  true  love  can  be  attained.  But  if,  even  after  they  are 
old,  they  preserve  the  fire  of  appetite  in  their  chill  heart  and  sub- 
ject stout  reason  to  frail  sense,  it  is  not  possible  to  say  how  much 
they  are  to  be  blamed.  For  like  fools  they  deserve  to  be  num- 
bered with  perpetual  infamy  among  the  unreasoning  animals, 
since  the  thoughts  and  ways  of  sensual  love  are  too  unbecoming 
to  mature  age." 

55 — Here  Bembo  paused  a  little,  as  if  to  rest;  and  as  everyone 
remained  silent,  my  lord  Morello  da  Ortona  said: 

"And  if  an  old  man  were  found  more  vigourous  and  sturdy 
and  of  better  looks  than  many  youths,  why  would  you  not  have 
him  allowed  to  love  with  that  love  wherewith  young  men  love?  " 

My  lady  Duchess  laughed,  and  said: 

*'  If  young  men's  love  is  so  unhappy,  my  lord  Morello,  why  do 
you  wish  to  have  old  men  love  thus  unhappily  also?  But  if  you 
were  old,  as  these  gentlemen  say,  you  would  not  thus  contrive 
evil  for  old  men." 

My  lord  Morello  replied: 

"  Methinks  it  is  messer  Pietro  Bembo  who  is  contriving  evil 
for  old  men,  in  that  he  wishes  to  have  them  love  in  a  certain  w^ay 
which  I  for  my  part  do  not  understand;  and  methinks  that  to 
possess  this  beauty  which  he  so  highly  praises,  without  the  body, 
is  a  dream." 

Then  Count  Ludovico  said: 

"  Do  you  believe,  my  lord  Morello,  that  beauty  is  always  as 
good  as  messer  Pietro  Bembo  says?  " 

"Not  I  indeed,"  replied  my  lord  Morello;  "nay,  I  remember 
having  seen  many  beautiful  women  who  were  very  bad,  cruel 
and  spiteful;  and  this  seems  to  be  almost  always  so,  for  beauty 
makes  them  proud,  and  pride  makes  them  cruel." 

Count  Ludovico  said,  laughing: 



"  To  you,  perhaps,  they  seem  cruel  because  they  do  not  grant 
you  what  you  would  have;  but  have  yourself  taught  by  messer 
Pietro  Bembo  in  what  way  old  men  ought  to  desire  beauty,  and 
what  they  ought  to  seek  from  women,  and  with  what  they  ought 
to  be  content;  and  if  you  do  not  exceed  these  limits,  you  shall 
see  that  they  will  not  be  either  proud  or  cruel,  and  will  grant 
you  what  you  wish." 

Then  my  lord  Morello  seemed  a  little  vexed,  and  said: 

"I  have  no  wish  to  know  what  does  not  concern  me;  but  do 
you  have  yourself  taught  how  this  beauty  ought  to  be  desired  by 
young  men  who  are  less  vigourous  and  sturdy  than  their  elders." 

56-— Here  messer  Federico,  to  quiet  my  lord  Morello  and  turn 
the  conversation,  did  not  allow  Count  Ludovico  to  reply,  but 
interrupted  him  and  said: 

"  Perhaps  my  lord  Morello  is  not  altogether  wrong  in  saying 
that  beauty  is  not  always  good;  for  women's  beauty  is  often  the 
cause  that  brings  upon  the  world  countless  evils,  hatreds,  wars, 
deaths  and  destructions;  of  which  good  proof  can  be  found  in 
the  fall  of  Troy.  And  beautiful  women  are  for  the  most  part 
either  proud  or  cruel,  or  (as  has  been  said)  immodest;  but  this 
would  not  seem  to  my  lord  Morello  a  fault.  There  are  also 
many  wicked  men  who  have  the  gift  of  fair  looks,  and  it  seems 
that  nature  made  them  thus  to  the  end  that  they  should  be  better 
fitted  to  deceive,  and  that  this  gracious  seeming  is  like  the  bait 
upon  the  hook." 

Then  messer  Pietro  Bembo  said: 

"  Do  not  believe  that  beauty  is  not  always  good." 

Here  Count  Ludovico,  in  order  to  return  to  the  original  sub- 
ject, interrupted  and  said: 

"  Since  my  lord  Morello  does  not  care  to  know  what  so  deeply 
concerns  him,  teach  it  to  me,  and  show  me  how  old  men  attain 
this  happiness  in  love,  for  I  shall  not  mind  having  myself  thought 
old,  provided  it  help  me." 

57.— Messer  Pietro  laughed,  and  said: 

"  I  wish  first  to  free  these  gentlemen's  minds  from  their  errour; 
then  I  will  satisfy  you  too."     Resuming  thus,  he  said: 

"  My  Lords,  I  would  not  have  any  of  us,  like  profane  and  sac- 
rilegious men,  incur  God's  wrath  by  speaking  ill  of  beauty,  which 



is  a  sacred  thing.  Therefore,  to  the  end  that  my  lord  Morello 
and  messer  Federico  may  be  warned,  and  not  lose  their  sight,  like 
Stesichorus  (which  is  a  very  fitting  punishment  for  one  who  scorns 
beauty),""  I  say  that  beauty  springs  from  God,  and  is  like  a  circle 
of  which  goodness  is  the  centre.  And  hence,  as  there  can  be  no 
circle  without  a  centre,  there  can  be  no  beauty  without  goodness. 
Thus  a  wicked  soul  rarely  inhabits  a  beautiful  body,  and  for  that 
reason  outward  beauty  is  a  true  sign  of  inward  goodness.  And 
this  grace  is  impressed  upon  bodies,  more  or  less,  as  an  index  of 
the  soul,  whereby  she  is  known  outwardly,  as  in  the  case  of 
trees,  in  which  the  beauty  of  the  blossom  gives  token  of  the  ex- 
cellence of  the  fruit.  The  same  is  true  in  the  case  of  human 
bodies,  as  we  see  that  the  Physiognomists  often  recognize  in  the 
face  the  character  and  sometimes  the  thoughts  of  men;  and  what 
is  more,  in  beasts  also  we  discern  from  the  aspect  the  quality  of 
the  mind,  which  is  expressed  as  much  as  possible  in  the  body. 
Think  how  clearly  we  read  anger,  ferocity  and  pride  in  the  face 
of  the  lion,  the  horse,  the  eagle;  a  pure  and  simple  innocence  in 
lambs  and  doves;  cunning  malice  in  foxes  and  wolves,  and  so  of 
nearly  all  other  animals. 

58.—"  The  ugly  are  therefore  for  the  most  part  wicked  too,  and 
the  beautiful  are  good:  and  we  may  say  that  beauty  is  the  pleas- 
ant, gay,  acceptable  and  desirable  face  of  good,  and  that  ugli- 
ness is  the  dark,  disagreeable,  unpleasant  and  sad  face  of  evil. 
And  if  you  will  consider  all  things,  you  will  find  that  those  which 
are  good  and  useful  always  have  a  charm  of  beauty  also, 

"  Look  at  the  state  of  this  great  fabric  of  the  world,  which  w^as 
made  by  God  for  the  health  and  preservation  of  every  created 
thing.  The  round  firmament,  adorned  with  so  many  heavenly 
lights,  and  the  earth  in  the  centre,  surrounded  by  the  elements 
and  sustained  by  its  own  weight;  the  sun,  which  in  its  revolving 
illumines  the  whole,  and  in  winter  approaches  the  lowest  sign, 
then  little  by  little  mounts  to  the  other  side;  the  moon,  which 
derives  her  light  from  it,  according  as  it  approaches  her  or 
withdraws  from  her;  and  the  five  other  stars,  which  separately 
travel  the  same  course.*''  These  things  have  such  influence 
upon  one  another  through  the  linking  of  an  order  thus  precisely 
framed,  that  if  they  were  changed  for  an  instant,  they  could  not 



hold  together,  and  would  wreck  the  world;  they  have  also  such 
beauty  and  grace  that  human  wit  cannot  imagine  anything  more 

"  Think  now  of  the  shape  of  man,  which  may  be  called  a  little 
world;  wherein  we  see  every  part  of  the  body  precisely  com- 
posed with  skill,  and  not  by  chance;  and  then  the  whole  form 
together  so  beautiful  that  we  could  hardly  decide  whether  more 
utility  or  more  grace  is  given  to  the  human  features  and  the  rest 
of  the  body  by  all  the  members,  such  as  the  eyes,  nose,  mouth, 
ears,  arms,  breast,  and  other  parts  withal.  The  same  can  be  said 
of  all  the  animals.  Look  at  the  feathers  of  birds,  the  leaves  and 
branches  of  trees,  which  are  given  them  by  nature  to  preserve 
their  being,  and  yet  have  also  very  great  loveliness. 

"  Leave  nature,  and  come  to  art.  What  thing  is  so  necessary 
in  ships  as  the  prow,  the  sides,  the  yards,  the  masts,  the  sails,  the 
helm,  the  oars,  the  anchors  and  the  cordage  ?  Yet  all  these  things 
have  so  much  comeliness,  that  it  seems  to  him  who  looks  upon 
them  that  they  are  thus  devised  as  much  for  beauty  as  for  use. 
Columns  and  architraves  support  lofty  galleries  and  palaces,  yet 
they  are  not  on  that  account  less  pleasing  to  the  eyes  of  him  who 
looks  upon  them,  than  useful  to  the  buildings.  When  men  first 
began  to  build,  they  set  that  middle  ridge  in  their  temples  and 
houses,  not  in  order  that  the  buildings  might  have  more  grace, 
but  to  the  end  that  the  water  might  flow  off  conveniently  on 
either  side;  yet  to  utility  soon  was  added  comeliness,  so  that  if  a 
temple  were  built  under  a  sky  where  no  hail  or  rain  falls,  it  would 
not  seem  able  to  have  any  dignity  or  beauty  without  the  ridge. 

59-—"  Much  praise  is  therefore  bestowed,  not  only  upon  other 
things,  but  upon  the  world,  by  saying  that  it  is  beautiful.  We 
praise  when  we  say:  'Beautiful  sky,  beautiful  earth,  beautiful 
sea,  beautiful  rivers,  beautiful  lands,  beautiful  woods,  trees,  gar- 
dens; beautiful  cities,  beautiful  churches,  houses,  armies.'  In 
short,  this  gracious  and  sacred  beauty  gives  highest  ornament  to 
everything;  and  we  may  say  that  the  good  and  the  beautiful  are 
in  a  way  one  and  the  same  thing,  and  especially  in  the  human 
body ;  of  whose  beauty  I  think  the  most  immediate  cause  is  beauty 
of  the  soul,  which  (as  partaker  of  true  divine  beauty)  brightens 
and  beautifies  whatever  it  touches,  and  especially  if  the  body 


wherein  it  dwells  is  not  of  such  base  material  that  it  cannot  im- 
press thereon  its  quality.  Therefore  beauty  is  the  true  trophy  of 
the  soul's  victory,  when  with  power  divine  she  holds  sway  over 
material  nature,  and  by  her  light  overcomes  the  darkness  of  the 

"  Hence  we  must  not  say  that  beauty  makes  women  proud 
or  cruel,  although  it  may  seem  so  to  my  lord  Morello;  nor 
yet  ought  we  to  ascribe  to  beautiful  women  those  enmities, 
deaths  and  destructions  of  which  the  immoderate  appetites  of 
men  are  the  cause.  I  do  not  by  any  means  deny  that  it  is  pos- 
sible to  find  beautiful  women  in  the  world  who  are  also  im- 
modest, but  it  is  not  at  all  because  their  beauty  inclines  them  to 
immodesty;  nay,  it  turns  them  therefrom  and  leads  them  to  the 
path  of  virtuous  behaviour,  by  the  connection  that  beauty  has 
with  goodness.  But  sometimes  evil  training,  the  continual 
urgence  of  their  lovers,  gifts,  poverty,  hope,  deceits,  fear  and  a 
thousand  other  causes,  overcome  the  steadfastness  even  of 
beautiful  and  good  women;  and  through  these  or  similar  causes 
beautiful  men  also  may  become  wicked." 

60.— Then  messer  Cesare  said: 

"  If  that  is  true  which  my  lord  Caspar  alleged  yesterday,  there 
is  no  doubt  that  beautiful  women  are  more  chaste  than  ugly 

•'  And  what  did  I  allege?  "  said  my  lord  Caspar. 

Messer  Cesare  replied: 

*'  If  I  remember  rightly,  you  said  that  women  who  are  wooed 
always  refuse  to  satisfy  him  who  wooes  them,  and  that  those  who 
are  not  wooed  woo  others.  Certain  it  is  that  the  beautiful  are 
always  more  wooed  and  besought  in  love  than  are  the  ugly; 
therefore  the  beautiful  always  refuse,  and  hence  are  more  chaste 
than  the  ugly,  who,  not  being  wooed,  woo  others." 

Bembo  laughed,  and  said: 

"  To  this  argument  no  answer  can  be  made."  Then  he  added: 
"  It  often  happens  also  that  our  sight  deceives  us  like  our  other 
senses,  and  accounts  a  face  beautiful  which  in  truth  is  not 
beautiful;  and  since  in  some  women's  eyes  and  whole  aspect  a 
certain  wantonness  is  seen  depicted,  together  with  unseemly 
blandishments, — many  (who  like  such  manner  because  it  prom- 

.    296 


ises  them  ease  in  attaining  what  they  desire)  call  it  beauty:  but 
in  truth  it  is  disguised  immodesty,  unworthy  a  name  so  honoured 
and  so  sacred." 

Messer  Pietro  Bembo  was  silent,  and  those  gentlemen  still 
urged  him  to  speak  further  of  this  love  and  of  the  mode  of  enjoy- 
ing beauty  truly;  and  he  at  last  said: 

"  Methinks  I  have  shown  clearly  enough  that  old  men  can  love 
more  happily  than  young,  which  was  my  thesis;  therefore  it 
does  not  become  me  to  go  further." 

Count  Ludovico  replied: 

"  You  have  better  shown  the  unhappiness  of  youths  than  the 
happiness  of  old  men,  whom  as  yet  you  have  not  taught  what 
road  to  follow  in  this  love  of  theirs,  but  have  only  told  them  to 
be  guided  by  reason;  and  by  many  it  is  thought  impossible  for 
love  to  abide  with  reason." 

6i — Bembo  still  sought  to  put  an  end  to  his  discourse,  but  my 
lady  Duchess  begged  him  to  speak;  and  he  began  anew  thus: 

"  Too  unhappy  would  human  nature  be,  if  our  soul  (wherein 
such  ardent  desire  can  spring  up  easily)  were  forced  to  feed  it 
solely  upon  that  which  is  common  to  her  with  the  beasts,  and 
could  not  direct  it  to  that  other  nobler  part  which  is  peculiar  to 
herself.  Therefore,  since  so  indeed  it  pleases  you,  I  have  no 
wish  to  avoid  discoursing  upon  this  noble  subject.  And  as  I  feel 
myself  unworthy  to  speak  of  Love's  most  sacred  mysteries,  I  pray 
him  so  to  inspire  my  thought  and  tongue  that  I  may  be  able  to 
show  this  excellent  Courtier  how  to  love  beyond  the  manner  of 
the  vulgar  crowd;  and  since  from  boyhood  up  I  have  dedicated 
my  whole  life  to  him,  so  now  also  may  my  words  comport  with 
this  intent  and  with  his  praise. 

"  I  say,  then,  that  as  in  youth  human  nature  is  so  greatly  prone 
to  sense,  the  Courtier  may  be  allowed  to  love  sensually  while  he 
is  young.  But  if  afterwards  in  maturer  years  he  chances  still  to 
be  kindled  with  this  amourous  desire,  he  must  be  very  wary  and 
take  care  not  to  deceive  himself  by  allowing  himself  to  be  led 
into  those  calamities  which  in  the  young  merit  more  compassion 
than  blame,  and,  on  the  contrary,  in  the  old  more  blame  than 

62.—"  Therefore  when  the  gracious  aspect  of  some  fair  woman 


meets  his  view,  accompanied  with  such  sweet  behaviour  and 
gentle  manners  that  he,  as  an  adept  in  love,  feels  that  his  spirit 
accords  with  hers:  as  soon  as  he  finds  that  his  eyes  lay  hold 
upon  her  image  and  carry  it  to  his  heart;  and  that  his  soul 
begins  to  contemplate  her  with  pleasure  and  to  feel  that  influence 
within  which  stirs  and  warms  it  little  by  little;  and  that  those 
quick  spirits  which  shine  out  through  the  eyes  continually  add 
fresh 'tinder  to  the  fire; — he  ought  at  this  first  stage  to  provide  a 
speedy  cure,  and  arouse  his  reason,  and  therewith  arm  the 
fortress  of  his  heart,  and  so  shut  the  way  to  sense  and  appetite 
that  they  cannot  enter  there  by  force  or  trickery.  Thus,  if  the 
flame  is  extinguished,  the  danger  is  extinguished  also;  but  if  it 
survives  or  grows,  then  the  Courtier,  feeling  himself  caught, 
must  resolve  on  shunning  wholly  every  stain  of  vulgar  love,  and 
thus  enter  on  the  path  of  divine  love,  with  reason  for  guide.  And 
first  he  must  consider  that  the  body  wherein  this  beauty  shines 
is  not  the  fountain  whence  it  springs,  but  rather  that  beauty 
(being  an  incorporeal  thing  and,  as  we  have  said,  a  heavenly 
beam)  loses  much  of  its  dignity  when  it  finds  itself  joined  to  vile 
and  corruptible  matter;  for  the  more  perfect  it  is  the  less  it  par- 
takes thereof,  and  is  most  perfect  when  wholly  separate  there- 
!  from.  And  he  must  consider  that  just  as  one  cannot  hear  with 
the  palate  or  smell  with  the  ears,  so  too  can  beauty  in  no  wise 
be  enjoyed,  nor  can  the  desire  which  it  excites  in  our  minds 
be  satisfied,  by  means  of  touch,  but  by  that  sense  of  which  this 
beauty  is  the  very  object,  namely,  the  power  of  vision. 

"  Therefore  let  him  shun  the  blind  judgment  of  sense,  and  with 
his  eyes  enjoy  the  splendour  of  his  lady,  her  grace,  her  amourous 
sparkle,  the  laughs,  the  ways  and  all  the  other  pleasant  orna- 
ments of  her  beauty.  Likewise  with  his  hearing  let  him  enjoy 
the  sweetness  of  her  voice,  the  concord  of  her  words,  the  har- 
mony of  her  music  (if  his  beloved  be  a  musician).  Thus  will  he 
feed  his  soul  on  sweetest  food  by  means  of  these  two  senses — 
which  have  little  of  the  corporeal  and  are  ministers  of  reason — 
without  passing  in  his  desire  for  the  body  to  any  appetite  less 
than  seemly. 

"  Next  let  him  obey,  please  and  honour  his  lady  with  all  rev- 
erence, and  hold  her  dearer  than  himself,  and  prefer  her  conve- 



nience  and  pleasures  to  his  own,  and  love  in  her  not  less  the 
beauty  of  mind  than  that  of  body.  Therefore  let  him  take  care 
not  to  leave  her  to  fall  into  any  kind  of  errour,  but  by  admonition 
and  good  advice  let  him  always  seek  to  lead  her  on  to  modesty, 
to  temperance,  to  true  chastity,  and  see  to  it  that  no  thoughts 
find  place  in  her  except  those  that  are  pure  and  free  from  every 
stain  of  vice;  and  by  thus  sowing  virtue  in  the  garden  of  her  fair 
mind,  he  will  gather  fruits  of  fairest  behaviour  too,  and  will  taste 
them  with  wonderful  delight.  And  this  will  be  the  true  engen- 
dering and  manifesting  of  beauty  in  beauty,  which  by  some  is 
said  to  be  the  end  of  love. 

"  In  such  fashion  will  our  Courtier  be  most  acceptable  to  his 
lady,  and  she  will  always  show  herself  obedient,  sweet  and  affable 
to  him,  and  as  desirous  of  pleasing  him  as  of  being  loved  by  him; 
and  the  wishes  of  both  will  be  most  virtuous  and  harmonious, 
and  they  themselves  will  thus  be  very  happy." 

63 — Here  my  lord  Morello  said: 

"  To  engender  beauty  in  beauty,  forsooth,  would  be  to  beget  a 
beautiful  child  in  a  beautiful  woman;  and  pleasing  him  in  this 
would  seem  to  me  a  much  clearer  token  that  she  loved  her  lover 
than  treating  him  with  the  affability  of  which  you  speak." 

Bembo  laughed,  and  said: 

"  You  must  not  go  beyond  bounds,  my  lord  Morello;  nor  does 
a  woman  give  small  token  of  her  love  when  she  gives  her  lover 
her  beauty,  which  is  so  precious  a  thing,  and  by  the  ways  that 
are  the  avenues  to  her  soul  (that  is,  sight  and  hearing)  sends  the 
glances  of  her  eyes,  the  image  of  her  face,  her  voice,  her  words, 
which  strike  home  to  the  lover's  heart  and  give  him  proof  of  her 

My  lord  Morello  said: 

"  Glances  and  words  may  be,  and  often  are,  false  proofs;  there- 
fore he  who  has  no  better  pledge  of  love  is,  in  my  judgment,  far 
from  sure;  and  truly  I  quite  expected  you  to  make  this  lady  of 
yours  a  little  more  courteous  and  generous  to  the  Courtier  than 
my  lord  Magnifico  made  his;  but  methinks  that  both  of  you  are 
in  like  case  with  those  judges  who  pronounce  sentence  against 
their  friends  for  the  sake  of  appearing  wise." 

64 — Bembo  said: 


"  I  am  very  willing  that  this  lady  should  be  much  more  cour- 
teous to  my  unyouthful  Courtier,  than  my  lord  Magnifico's  is  to 
the  youthful  Courtier;  and  with  reason,  for  my  Courtier  will 
desire  only  seemly  things,  and  therefore  the  lady  can  grant  him 
all  of  them  without  blame;  while  my  lord  Magnifico's  lady,  who 
is  not  so  sure  of  the  youthful  Courtier's  modesty,  ought  to  grant 
him  only  seemly  things,  and  to  refuse  him  the  unseemly.  Hence 
my  Courtier,  to  whom  is  granted  what  he  asks,  is  more  happy 
than  the  other,  to  whom  part  is  granted  and  part  refused. 

"And  to  the  end  that  you  may  still  better  understand  that 
rational  love  is  happier  than  sensual,  I  say  that  the  same  things 
ought  sometimes  to  be  refused  in  sensual  love  and  granted  in 
rational  love,  because  they  are  unseemly  in  the  one  and  seemly 
in  the  other.  Thus,  to  please  her  worthy  lover,  besides  granting 
him  pleasant  smiles,  familiar  and  secret  discourse,  and  leave  to 
joke  and  jest  with  her  and  to  touch  her  hand,  the  lady  may  in 
reason  even  go  so  far  as  kissing  without  blame,  which  is  not 
permitted  in  sensual  love  according  to  my  lord  Magnifico's  rules. 
For  since  the  kiss  is  the  union  of  body  and  soul,  there  is  danger 
lest  the  sensual  lover  incline  more  in  the  direction  of  the  body 
than  in  that  of  the  soul;  while  the  rational  lover  perceives  that 
although  the  mouth  is  part  of  the  body,  yet  it  gives  issue  to 
words,  which  are  interpreters  of  the  soul,  and  to  that  inward 
breath  which  is  itself  even  called  soul.  Hence  a  man  delights 
to  join  his  mouth  to  that  of  his  beloved  in  a  kiss,  not  in  order  to 
arouse  any  unseemly  desire  in  him,  but  because  he  feels  that 
bond  to  be  the  opening  of  a  passage  between  their  souls,  which, 
being  each  drawn  by  desire  for  the  other,  pour  themselves  each 
into  the  other's  body  by  turn,  and  so  commingle  that  each  has 
two  souls,  and  a  single  soul  (thus  composed  of  these  two)  rules 
as  it  were  over  two  bodies.  Hence  the  kiss  may  be  oftener  said 
to  be  a  joining  of  soul  than  of  body,  because  it  has  such  power 
over  the  soul  that  it  draws  her  to  itself  and  separates  her  from 
the  body.  On  this  account  all  chaste  lovers  desire  to  kiss  as  a 
joining  of  the  soul;  and  thus  the  divinely  enamoured  Plato  says 
that  in  kissing  the  soul  came  to  his  lips  to  escape  his  body.  And 
since  the  separation  of  the  soul  from  things  material,  and  its 
complete  union  with  things  spiritual,  may  be  denoted  by  the  kiss, 



Solomon,  in  his  divine  book  of  the  Song,  says:  '  Let  him  kiss  me 
with  the  kiss  of  his  mouth,'  to  express  desire  that  his  soul  might 
be  so  transported  with  divine  love  to  the  contemplation  of  celes- 
tial beauty,  that  by  joining  closely  therewith  she  might  forsake 
the  body." 

65 — Everyone  gave  closest  heed  toBembo's  discourse;  and  he, 
having  made  a  little  pause  and  seeing  that  no  one  else  spoke, 

•'  As  you  have  made  me  begin  to  teach  our  unyouthful  Courtier 
happy  love,  I  fain  would  lead  him  a  little  farther;  for  it  is  very 
dangerous  to  stop  at  this  stage,  seeing  that  the  soul  is  very  prone 
to  the  senses,  as  has  many  times  been  said;  and  although  reason 
and  argument  choose  well  and  perceive  that  beauty  does  not 
spring  from  the  body,  and  although  they  therefore  put  a  bridle 
upon  unseemly  desires,  still,  always  contemplating  beauty  in  the 
body  often  perverts  sound  judgment.  And  even  if  no  other  evil 
flowed  therefrom,  absence  from  the  beloved  object  brings  much 
suffering  with  it,  because  the  influence  of  her  beauty  gives  the 
lover  wonderful  delight  when  she  is  present,  and  by  warming  his 
heart  wakens  and  melts  certain  dormant  and  frozen  forces  in  his 
soul,  which  (being  nourished  by  the  warmth  of  love)  spread  and 
blossom  about  his  heart,  and  send  forth  through  the  eyes  those 
spirits  that  are  very  subtle  vapours  made  of  the  purest  and 
brightest  part  of  the  blood,  which  receive  the  image  of  her 
beauty  and  fashion  it  with  a  thousand  various  ornaments.  Hence 
the  soul  delights,  and  trembles  with  awe  and  yet  rejoices,  and  as 
in  a  stupour  feels  not  only  pleasure,  but  that  fear  and  reverence 
which  we  are  wont  to  have  for  sacred  things,  and  speaks  of  being 
in  paradise.  ' 

66.— "Therefore  the  lover  who  considers  beauty  in  the  body 
only,  loses  this  blessing  and  felicity  as  soon  as  his  beloved  lady 
by  her  absence  leaves  his  eyes  without  their  splendour,  and  his 
soul  consequently  widowed  of  its  blessing.  Because,  her  beauty 
being  far  away,  that  amourous  influence  does  not  warm  his  heart 
as  it  did  in  her  presence;  wherefore  his  pores  become  arid  and 
dry,  and  still  the  memory  of  her  beauty  stirs  a  little  those  forces 
of  his  soul,  so  that  they  seek  to  scatter  abroad  the  spirits;  and 
these,  finding  the  ways  shut,  have  no  exit,  and  yet  seek  to  issue 


forth;  and  thus  hemmed  in  by  those  goads,  they  sting  the  soul  and 
give  it  keenest  suffering,  as  in  the  case  of  children  when  the  teeth 
begin  to  come  through  the  tender  gums.  And  from  this  proceed 
the  tears,  the  sighs,  the  anguish  and  the  torments  of  lovers,  be- 
cause the  soul  is  ever  in  affliction  and  travail,  and  becomes  almost 
raging  until  her  dear  beauty  appears  to  it  again ;  and  then  it  sud- 
denly is  calmed  and  breathes,  and  all  intent  upon  that  beauty  it 
feeds  on  sweetest  food,  nor  would  ever  part  from  so  delightful  a 

"  Hence,  to  escape  the  torment  of  this  absence  and  to  enjoy 
beauty  without  suffering,  there  is  need  that  the  Courtier  should, 
with  the  aid  of  reason,  wholly  turn  his  desire  from  the  body  to  the 
beauty  alone,  and  contemplate  it  in  itself  simple  and  pure,  as  far 
as  he  can,  and  fashion  it  in  his  imagination  apart  from  all  matter; 
and  thus  make  it  lovely  and  dear  to  his  soul,  and  enjoy  it  there, 
and  have  it  with  him  day  and  night,  in  every  time  and  place,  with- 
out fear  of  ever  losing  it;  bearing  always  in  mind  that  the  body 
is  something  very  different  from  beauty,  and  not  only  does  not 
enhance  it,  but  diminishes  its  perfection. 

"  In  this  wise  will  our  unyouthful  Courtier  be  beyond  all  the 
bitterness  and  calamities  that  the  young  nearly  always  feel:  such 
as  jealousies,  suspicions,  disdainings,  angers,  despairings,  and 
certain  furies  full  of  madness  ■  whereby  they  are  often  led  into 
such  errour  that  some  of  them  not  only  beat  the  women  whom 
they  love,  but  deprive  themselves  of  life.  He  will  do  no  injury 
to  the  husband,  father,  brothers  or  kinsfolk  of  his  beloved  lady; 
he  will  put  no  infamy  upon  her;  he  will  never  be  forced  to  bridle 
his  eyes  and  tongue  with  such  difficulty  in  order  not  to  disclose 
his  desires  to  others,  orto  endure  suffering  atpartings  or  absences; 
— because  he  will  always  carry  his  precious  treasure  with  him 
shut  up  in  his  heart,  and  also  by  force  of  his  imagination  he  will 
inwardly  fashion  her  beauty  much  more  beautiful  than  in  fact  it 

67.—"  But  besides  these  blessings  the  lover  will  find  another 
much  greater  still,  if  he  will  employ  this  love  as  a  step  to  mount 
to  one  much  higher;  which  he  will  succeed  in  doing  if  he  con- 
tinually considers  within  himself  how  narrow  a  restraint  it  is  to 
be  always  occupied  in  contemplating  the  beauty  of  one  body 



only;  and  therefore,  in  order  to  escape  such  close  bounds  as 
these,  in  his  thought  he  will  little  by  little  add  so  many  orna- 
ments, that  by  heaping  all  beauties  together  he  will  form  an 
universal  concept,  and  will  reduce  the  multitude  of  these  beauties 
to  the  unity  of  that  single  beauty  which  is  spread  over  human 
nature  at  large.  In  this  way  he  will  no  longer  contemplate 
the  particular  beauty  of  one  woman,  but  that  universal  beauty 
which  adorns  all  bodies;  and  thus,  bewildered  by  this  greater 
light,  he  will  not  heed  the  lesser,  and  glowing  with  a  purer  flame, 
he  will  esteem  lightly  that  which  at  first  he  so  greatly  prized. 

"  This  stage  of  love,  although  it  be  very  noble  and  such  as  few 
attain,  still  cannot  be  called  perfect;  for  since  the  imagination  is 
merely  a  corporeal  faculty  and  has  no  perception  except  through 
those  means  that  are  furnished  it  by  the  senses,  it  is  not  wholly 
purged  of  material  darkness;  and  hence,  although  it  considers 
this  universal  beauty  in  the  abstract  and  intrinsically,  yet  it  does 
not  discern  that  beauty  very  clearly  or  without  some  ambiguity, 
because  of  the  likeness  which  phantoms  bear  to  substance. 
Thus  those  who  attain  this  love  are  like  tender  birds  beginning 
to  put  on  feathers,  which,  although  with  their  frail  wings  they 
lift  themselves  a  little  in  flight,  yet  dare  not  go  far  from  their 
nest  or  trust  themselves  to  the  winds  and  open  sky. 

68.—"  Therefore  when  our  Courtier  shall  have  reached  this 
goal,  although  he  may  be  called  a  very  happy  lover  by  compari- 
son with  those  who  are  plunged  in  the  misery  of  sensual  love, 
still  I  would  have  him  not  rest  content,  but  press  boldly  on 
following  along  the  lofty  path  after  the  guide  who  leads  him  to 
the  goal  of  true  felicity.  And  thus,  instead  of  going  outside 
himself  in  thought  (as  all  must  needs  do  who  choose  to  contem- 
plate bodily  beauty  only),  let  him  have  recourse  to  himself,  in 
order  to  contemplate  that  beauty  which  is  seen  by  the  eyes 
of  the  mind,  which  begin  to  be  sharp  and  clear  when  those 
of  the  body  lose  the  flower  of  their  loveliness.  Then  the  soul, — 
freed  from  vice,  purged  by  studies  of  true  philosophy,  versed  in 
spiritual  life,  and  practised  in  matters  of  the  intellect,  devoted  to 
the  contemplation  of  her  own  substance, — as  if  awakened  from 
deepest  sleep,  opens  those  eyes  which  all  possess  but  few  use, 
and  sees  in  herself  a  ray  of  that  light  which  is  the  true  image  of 



the  angelic  beauty  communicated  to  her,  and  of  which  she  then 
communicates  a  faint  shadow  to  the  body.  Grown  blind  to 
things  earthly,  the  soul  thus  becomes  very  keen-sighted  to  things 
heavenly;  and  sometimes,  when  the  motive  forces  of  the  body 
are  absorbed  by  earnest  contemplation  or  fettered  by  sleep, 
being  unhampered  by  them,  she  is  conscious  of  a  certain  far-off 
perfume  of  true  angelic  beauty,  and  ravished  by  the  splendour 
of  that  light,  she  begins  to  kindle  and  pursues  it  so  eagerly  that 
she  almost  becomes  phrensied  with  desire  to  unite  herself  to  that 
beauty,  thinking  that  she  has  found  God's  footstep,  in  the  con- 
templation of  which  she  seeks  to  rest  as  in  her  beatific  end.  And 
thus,  glowing  in  this  most  happy  flame,  she  rises  to  her  noblest 
part,  which  is  the  intellect;  and  here,  no  longer  darkened  by  the 
gloomy  night  of  things  earthly,  she  sees  the  divine  beauty;  but 
still  she  does  not  yet  quite  enjoy  it  perfectly,  because  she  con- 
templates it  in  her  own  particular  intellect  only;  which  cannot 
be  capable  of  the  vast  universal  beauty. 

"  Wherefore,  not  well  content  with  this  boon,  love  gives  the 
soul  a  greater  felicity;  for  just  as  from  the  particular  beauty  of 
one  body  it  guides  her  to  the  universal  beauty  of  all  bodies,  so  in 
the  highest  stage  of  perfection  it  guides  her  from  the  particular 
to  the  universal  intellect.  Hence  the  soul,  kindled  by  the  most 
sacred  fire  of  true  divine  love,  flies  to  unite  herself  with  the 
angelic  nature,  and  not  only  quite  forsakes  sense,  but  has 
no  longer  need  of  reason's  discourse;  for,  changed  into  an  angel, 
she  understands  all  things  intelligible,  and  without  veil  or  cloud 
views  the  wide  sea  of  pure  divine  beauty,  and  receives  it  into 
herself,  and  enjoys  that  supreme  felicity  of  which  the  senses  are 

69 — "  If,  then,  the  beauties  which  with  these  dim  eyes  of  ours  we 
daily  see  in  corruptible  bodies  (but  which  are  naught  but  dreams 
and  faintest  shadows  of  beauty)  seem  to  us  so  fair  and  gracious 
that  they  often  kindle  most  ardent  fire  in  us,  and  of  such  delight 
that  we  deem  no  felicity  able  to  equal  that  which  we  sometimes 
feel  at  a  single  glance  coming  to  us  from  a  woman's  beloved 
eyes, — what  happy  wonder,  what  blessed  awe,  shall  we  think  is 
that  which  fills  the  souls  that  attain  to  the  vision  of  divine 
beauty!    What  sweet  flame,  what  delightful  burning,  must  that 



be  thought  which  springs  from  the  fountain  of  supreme  and 
true  beauty!  —  which  is  the  source  of  every  other  beauty,  which 
never  waxes  nor  wanes:  ever  fair,  and  of  its  own  self  most 
simple  in  every  part  alike;  like  only  to  itself,  and  partaking 
of  none  other;  but  fair  in  such  wise  that  all  other  fair  things  are 
fair  because  they  derive  their  beauty  from  it. 

"  This  is  that  beauty  identical  with  highest  good,  which  by  its 
light  calls  and  attracts  all  things  to  itself,  and  not  only  gives  in- 
tellect to  the  intellectual,  reason  to  the  rational,  sense  and  desire 
for  life  to  the  sensual,  but  to  plants  also  and  to  stones  communi- 
cates motion  and  that  natural  instinct  of  their  quality,  as  an 
imprint  of  itself. 

"  Therefore  this  love  is  as  much  greater  and  happier  than  the 
others,  as  the  cause  that  moves  it  is  more  excellent;  and  hence, 
just  as  material  fire  refines  gold,  so  does  this  most  sacred  fire  in 
our  souls  destroy  and  consume  that  which  is  mortal  there,  and 
quickens  and  beautifies  that  celestial  part  which  at  first,  by  reason 
of  the  senses,  was  dead  and  buried  in  them.  This  is  the  Pyre 
whereon  the  poets  write  that  Hercules  was  burned  on  the  crest 
of  Mount  CEta,  and  by  such  burning  became  divine  and  immortal 
after  death.*"  This  is  the  Burning  Bush  of  Moses,  the  Cloven 
Tongues  of  fire,  the  Fiery  Chariot  of  Elias,*"  which  doubles  grace 
and  felicity  in  the  souls  of  those  who  are  worthy  to  behold  it, 
when  they  leave  this  earthly  baseness  and  take  flight  towards 

"  Let  us,  then,  direct  all  the  thoughts  and  forces  of  our  soul  to 
this  most  sacred  light,  which  shows  us  the  way  that  leads  to 
heaven;  and  following  after  it,  let  us  lay  aside  the  passions 
wherewith  we  were  clothed  at  our  fall,  and  by  the  stairway  that 
bears  the  shadow  of  sensual  beauty  on  its  lowest  step,  let  us 
mount  to  the  lofty  mansion  where  dwells  the  heavenly,  lovely 
and  true  beauty,  which  lies  hidden  in  the  inmost  secret  recesses 
of  God,  so  that  profane  eyes  cannot  behold  it.  Here  we  shall 
find  a  most  happy  end  to  our  desires,  true  rest  from  our  toil,  cer- 
tain cure  for  our  miseries,  most  wholesome  medicine  for  our 
diseases,  safest  refuge  from  the  boisterous  storms  of  this  life's 
tempestuous  sea. 

•JO.—"  What  mortal  tongue,  then,  O  most  holy  Love,  can  praise 



thee  worthily?  Most  fair,  most  good,  most  wise,  thou  springest 
from  the  union  of  beauty  and  goodness  and  divine  wisdom,  and 
abidest  in  that  union,  and  by  that  union  returnest  to  that  union 
as  in  a  circle.  Sweetest  bond  of  the  universe,  joining  things 
celestial  to  things  terrestrial,  thou  with  benignant  sway  inclinest 
the  supernal  powers  to  rule  the  lower  powers,  and  turning  the 
minds  of  mortals  to  their  origin,  joinest  them  thereto.  Thou 
unitestthe  elements  in  concord,  movest  nature  to  produce  —  and 
that  which  is  born,  to  the  perpetuation  of  life.  Thou  unitest 
things  that  are  separate,  givest  perfection  to  the  imperfect,  like- 
ness to  the  unlike,  friendship  to  the  unfriendly,  fruit  to  the  earth, 
tranquillity  to  the  sea,  vital  light  to  the  heavens. 

"  Thou  art  father  of  true  pleasure,  of  grace,  of  peace,  of  gentle- 
ness and  good  will,  enemy  to  rustic  savagery  and  sloth  —  in  short, 
the  beginning  and  the  end  of  every  good.  And  since  thou  de- 
lightest  to  inhabit  the  flower  of  beautiful  bodies  and  beautiful 
souls,  and  thence  sometimes  to  display  thyself  a  little  to  the  eyes 
and  minds  of  those  who  are  worthy  to  behold  thee,  methinks 
that  now  thy  abode  is  here  among  us, 

"  Deign,  then,  O  Lord,  to  hear  our  prayers,  pour  thyself  upon 
our  hearts,  and  with  the  splendour  of  thy  most  holy  fire  illumine 
our  darkness  and,  like  a  trusted  guide,  in  this  blind  labyrinth  show 
us  the  true  path.  Correct  the  falseness  of  our  senses,  and  after 
our  long  pursuit  of  vanities  give  us  true  and  solid  good ;  make  us 
to  inhale  those  spiritual  odours  that  quicken  the  powers  of  the 
intellect,  and  to  hear  the  celestial  harmony  with  such  accord  that 
there  may  no  longer  be  room  in  us  for  any  discord  of  passion;  fill 
us  at  that  inexhaustible  fountain  of  content  which  ever  delights 
and  never  satiates,  and  gives  a  taste  of  true  beatitude  to  all  who 
drink  of  its  living  and  limpid  waters;  with  the  beams  of  thy  light 
purge  our  eyes  of  misty  ignorance,  to  the  end  that  they  may  no 
longer  prize  mortal  beauty,  and  may  know  that  the  things  which 
first  they  seemed  to  see,  are  not,  and  that  those  which  they  saw 
not,  really  are. 

"Accept  our  souls,  which  are  offered  thee  in  sacrifice;  burn 
them  in  that  living  flame  which  consumes  all  mortal  dross,  to  the 
end  that,  being  wholly  separated  from  the  body,  they  may  unite 
with  divine  beauty  by  a  perpetual  and  very  sweet  bond,  and  that 



we,  being  severed  from  ourselves,  may,  like  true  lovers,  be  able  to 
transform  ourselves  into  the  beloved,  and  rising  above  the  earth 
may  be  admitted  to  the  angels'  feast,  where,  fed  on  ambrosia  and 
immortal  nectar,  we  may  at  last  die  a  most  happy  and  living 
death,  as  died  of  old  those  ancient  fathers  whose  souls  thou,  by 
the  most  glowing  power  of  contemplation,  didst  ravish  from  the 
body  and  unite  with  God." 

7I-— Having  thus  far  spoken,  with  such  vehemence  that  he  al- 
most seemed  transported  and  beside  himself,  Bembo  remained 
silent  and  motionless,  keeping  his  eyes  towards  heaven,  as  if 
wrapped  in  ecstasy;  when  my  lady  Emilia,  who  with  the  others 
had  been  listening  most  attentively  to  his  discourse,  took  him  by 
the  border  of  his  robe,  and  shaking  him  a  little,  said  :**" 

"  Have  a  care,  messer  Pietro,  that  with  these  thoughts  your  soul, 
also,  does  not  forsake  your  body." 

"  My  Lady,"  replied  messer  Pietro,  "  that  would  not  be  the  first 
miracle  that  love  has  wrought  upon  me." 

Then  my  lady  Duchess  and  all  the  others  again  began  urging 
Bembo  to  continue  his  discourse:  and  everyone  seemed  almost  to 
feel  in  his  mind  a  spark  of  that  divine  love  which  inspired  the 
speaker,  and  all  desired  to  hear  more;  but  Bembo  added: 

"  My  Lords,  I  have  said  that  which  love's  sacred  phrensy  dic- 
tated to  me  at  the  moment;  now  that  it  seems  to  inspire  me  no 
further,  I  should  not  know  what  to  say:  and  I  think  love  is  not 
willing  that  its  secrets  should  be  further  disclosed,  or  that  the 
Courtier  should  pass  beyond  that  stage  which  it  has  been  pleased 
to  have  me  show  him;  and  therefore  perhaps  it  is  not  permitted 
to  speak  more  of  this  matter." 

72.—"  Verily,"  said  my  lady  Duchess,  "  if  the  unyouthful  Courtier 
should  prove  able  to  follow  the  path  that  you  have  shown  him, 
he  ought  in  all  reason  to  content  himself  with  such  great  feli- 
city, and  to  have  no  envy  of  the  youthful  Courtier." 

Then  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga  said: 

"  The  road  which  leads  to  this  felicity  seems  to  me  so  steep  that 
I  believe  it  is  very  hard  to  travel." 

My  lord  Gaspar  added: 

"  I  believe  it  is  hard  for  men  to  travel,  but  impossible  for 



My  lady  Emilia  laughed,  and  said: 

"  My  lord  Gaspar,  if  you  return  to  wronging  us  so  often,  I 
promise  you  that  you  will  not  be  pardoned  again." 

My  lord  Gaspar  replied: 

"  No  wrong  is  done  you  by  saying  that  women's  souls  are  not 
so  purged  of  passion  as  those  of  men,  nor  given  to  contemplation, 
as  messer  Pietro  said  those  must  be  who  would  taste  divine  love. 
Thus  we  do  not  read  that  any  woman  has  had  this  grace,  but 
that  many  men  have  had  it,  like  Plato,  Socrates  and  Plotinus,*" 
and  many  others;  and  so  many  of  our  holy  Fathers,  like  St. 
Francis,  upon  whom  an  ardent  spirit  of  love  impressed  the  most 
holy  seal  of  the  five  wounds :'"'  nor  could  aught  but  the  power  of 
love  lift  St.  Paul  to  the  vision  of  those  mysteries  whereof  man 
is  not  allowed  to  speak;*"  nor  show  St.  Stephen  the  opened 

Here  the  Magnifico  Giuliano  replied: 

"In  this,  women  will  by  no  means  be  outdone  by  men;  for 
Socrates  himself  confesses  that  all  the  mysteries  of  love  which 
he  knew  were  revealed  to  him  by  a  woman,  who  was  the  famous 
Diotima;*"  and  the  angel  who  wounded  St,  Francis  with  the 
fire  of  love,  has  also  made  several  women  of  our  age  worthy  of 
the  same  seal.  You  must  remember,  too,  that  St.  Mary  Mag- 
dalen had  many  sins  forgiven  her  because  she  loved  much,'*"  and 
perhaps  with  no  less  grace  than  St.  Paul  was  she  many  times 
lifted  to  the  third  heaven  by  angelic  love;  and  so  many  others, 
who  (as  I  narrated  yesterday  more  at  large)  for  the  love  of 
Christ's  name  took  no  heed  of  life,  nor  were  afraid  of  torments  or 
any  manner  of  death  however  horrible  and  cruel  it  might  be; 
and  they  were  not  old,  as  messer  Pietro  would  have  our  Courtier, 
but  tender  and  delicate  girls,  and  of  that  age  wherein  he  says 
that  sensual  love  ought  to  be  allowed  in  men." 

73.— My  lord  Gaspar  began  making  ready  to  reply,  but  my 
lady  Duchess  said: 

"  Of  this  let  messer  Pietro  Bembo  be  the  judge,  and  let  us 
abide  by  his  decision  whether  or  not  women  are  as  capable 
of  divine  love  as  men  are.  But  as  the  controversy  between 
you  might  be  too  long,  it  will  be  well  to  postpone  it  until  to- 



"  Nay,  until  this  evening,"  said  messer  Cesare  Gonzaga. 

"  How  until  this  evening?  "  said  my  lady  Duchess. 

Messer  Cesare  replied: 

"  Because  it  is  already  day;  "  and  he  showed  her  the  light  that 
was  beginning  to  come  in  through  the  cracks  at  the  windows. 

Then  everyone  rose  to  his  feet  in  great  surprise,  for  the  discus- 
sion did  not  seem  to  have  lasted  longer  than  usual;  but  by 
reason  of  having  been  begun  much  later,  and  by  its  pleasantness, 
it  had  so  beguiled  the  company  that  they  had  not  perceived  the 
flight  of  hours;  nor  was  there  anyone  who  felt  the  heaviness 
of  sleep  upon  his  eyes,  which  nearly  always  happens  when 
the  accustomed  hour  of  sleep  is  passed  in  watching.  The  win- 
dows having  then  been  opened  on  that  side  of  the  palace  which 
looks  towards  the  lofty  crest  of  Mount  Catria,***  they  saw  that  a 
beautiful  dawn  of  rosy  hue  was  already  born  in  the  east,  and 
that  all  the  stars  had  vanished  save  Venus,  sweet  mistress  of  the 
sky,  who  holds  the  bonds  of  night  and  day;  from  which  there 
seemed  to  breathe  a  gentle  wind  that  filled  the  air  with  crisp 
coolness  and  began  to  waken  sweet  choruses  of  joyous  birds  in 
the  murmuring  forests  of  the  hills  hard  by. 

So,  having  reverently  taken  leave  of  my  lady  Duchess,  they  all 
started  towards  their  chambers  without  light  of  torches,  that  of 
day  being  enough  for  them;  and  as  they  were  about  to  quit  the 
room,  my  lord  Prefect  turned  to  my  lady  Duchess,  and  said: 

"  My  Lady,  to  finish  the  controversy  between  my  lord  Gaspar 
and  my  lord  Magnifico,  we  will  come  with  our  judge  this  evening 
earlier  than  we  did  yesterday." 

My  lady  Emilia  replied: 

"  On  condition  that  if  my  lord  Gaspar  wishes  to  accuse  women 
and  put  some  fresh  imputation  upon  them,  as  is  his  wont,  he 
shall  also  give  bond  to  sustain  his  ch'arge,  for  I  account  him 
a  shifty  disputant." 





Baldesar  Castiglione  was  born  on  his  father's  estate  of  Casatico  in  the 
Mantuan  territory,  6  December  1478.  Michelangelo  was  his  senior  by  four 
years;  Leo  X  by  three  years;  Titian  by  one  year;  Giorgione  and  Cesare 
Borgia  were  born  in  the  year  of  his  birth,  while  his  friend  Raphael  and  also 
Luther  were  his  juniors  by  five  years. 

His  surname  is  said  to  be  derived  from  the  little  town  at  which  Bona- 
parte defeated  the  Austrians  near  Mantua  in  1796,  and  which  is  by  some  sup- 
posed to  have  taken  its  name  from  Castrum  Stiliconis,  Camp  of  Stilico,  a 
Roman  general  of  the  4th  century.  One  Tealdo  Castiglione  was  Archbishop 
of  Milan  as  early  as  1074,  from  which  time  the  family  is  often  and  honourably 
mentioned  in  the  annals  of  northern  Italy. 

Baldesar's  parents  were  Count  Cristoforo  Castiglione,  a  soldier- courtier,  and 
Luigia  Gonzaga,  a  near  kinswoman  of  the  Marquess  of  Mantua.  The  b"oy 
studied  at  Milan, — learning  Latin  from  Giorgio  Merula  and  Greek  from 
Demetrios  Chalcondylas,  an  erudite  Athenian  who  had  fled  from  Byzantium 
about  1447,  and  of  whom  another  pupil  wrote:  "It  seems  to  me  that  in  him 
are  figured  all  the  wisdom,  the  civility  and  the  elegance  of  those  ancients  who 
are  so  famous  and  so  illustrious.  Merely  seeing  him,  you  fancy  you  are  look- 
ing on  Plato;  far  more  when  you  hear  him  speak." 

Having  spent  some  time  at  the  splendid  court  of  Ludovico  Sforza  at  Milan, 
Castiglione  lost  his  father  in  1499,  and  (the  Sforzas  being  expelled  the  same  year) 
he  returned  to  Mantua  and  entered  the  service  of  his  natural  lord,  the  Mar- 
quess Gianfrancesco  Gonzaga;  he  accompanied  this  prince  to  Milan  to  wit- 
ness the  entry  of  Louis  XII  of  France,  and  afterwards  on  an  expedition  to  aid 
the  French  in  their  vain  effort  to  hold  the  kingdom  of  Naples  against  the 
Aragonese.  When  Gonzaga  abandoned  the  French  cause  (after  being  de- 
feated by  Ferdinand  the  Catholic's  "Great  Captain,"  Consalvo  de  Cordova, 
near  the  Garigliano  in  1503),  Castiglione  obtained  leave  to  go  to  Rome,  and 
there  met  Duke  Guidobaldo  di  Montefeltro,  who  had  come  to  pay  homage  to 
the  newly  elected  Pope  Julius  II.  He  entered  the  duke's  service,  and  soon 
became  one  of  the  brightest  ornaments  of  that  brilliant  company  of  statesmen, 
prelates,  scholars,  poets,  wits  and  ladies,  known  as  the  Court  of  Urbino. 

In  1504  he  took  part,  under  Duke  Guidobaldo,  in  the  papal  siege  of  Cesena 
against  the  Venetians.  The  next  year  he  attended  the  duke  on  a  diplomatic 
visit  to  Rome.  In  1506  he  was  sent  to  the  court  of  Henry  VII  of  England  to 
receive  the  insignia  of  the  Order  of  the  Garter  on  the  duke's  behalf.  As  appears 
from  a  letter  to  his  mother,  he  returned  to  Urbino  as  early  as  5  March  1507, 
notwithstanding  his  mention  of  himself  in  THE  COURTIER  as  still  absent 
in  England  at  the  date  (8-11  March)  of  the  dialogues  he  professes  to  report  at 
second  hand.    In  the  same  year  he  was  sent  on  a  mission  to  Louis  XII  at  Milan. 


On  Guidobaldo's  death  in  1508,  Castiglione  continued  in  the  service  of  the 
new  duke,  Francesco  Maria  della  Rovere  ("my  lord  Prefect"  of  The  Cour- 
tier), who  appointed  him  governor  of  Gubbio.  In  the  following  year  he 
served  in  his  master's  campaign  against  the  Venetians,  and  contracted  a  dan- 
gerous illness,  during  which  he  was  tenderly  nursed  by  the  dowager  duchess, 
Elisabetta  Gonzaga.  In  1511  he  accompanied  the  duke  to  Rome  on  the  occa- 
sion of  the  latter's  trial  for  the  murder  of  Cardinal  Alidosi,  and  was  active  in 
Francesco  Maria's  successful  defence.  In  1513  the  duke  created  him  Count  of 
Novillara  and  gave  him  an  estate  of  that  name,  which  however  he  soon  lost 
through  the  Medici  usurpation  of  the  duchy,  and  never  regained.  At  the  death 
of  Julius  II,  Castiglione  was  ambassador  to  the  sacred  college,  and  continued 
in  that  office  during  nearly  the  whole  of  Leo  X's  pontificate.  His  numerous 
letters  show  the  variety  and  importance  of  the  diplomatic  business  in  which 
he  was  engaged. 

Several  plans  for  his  marriage  came  to  nothing,  and  on  one  occasion,  when  ■ 
the  lady's  father  hesitated,  the  suitor  broke  off  negotiations,  saying:  "The 
wife  that  I  am  to  take,  be  she  who  she  may,  I  desire  that  she  should  be  given 
to  me  with  as  good  will  as  I  take  her  withal, —  yea,  if  she  were  the  daughter 
of  a  king." 

Pope  Leo  having  in  1516  basely  deprived  Francesco  Maria  of  the  Duchy  of 
Urbino,  Castiglione  accepted  an  invitation  to  Mantua  and  there  married  Ippo- 
lita,  daughter  of  Count  Guido  Torello  di  Montechiarugolo  and  Francesca 
Bentivoglio,  a  daughter  of  the  former  ruler  of  Bologna.  This  union  proved 
exceptionally  happy  and  was  blessed  by  three  children :  a  son  Camillo,  a 
daughter  Anna,  and  a  second  daughter  Ippolita,  whose  birth  cost  the  young 
mother  her  life  in  1520.  His  son  attained  the  age  of  eighty  years,  and  is 
said  to  have  been  the  true  embodiment  of  the  qualities  described  in  The 

Castiglione  resided  alternately  at  Mantua  and  at  Rome,  where  he  served  as 
Mantuan  ambassador,  and  where  his  learning,  wit,  taste,  gentle  disposition 
and  integrity  earned  for  him  an  almost  unique  eminence  at  the  papal  court. 

In  1524  he  was  sent  by  Pope  Clement  VII  as  ambassador  to  the  Emperor 
Charles  V  (who  was  waging  war  against  the  French  in  Italy),  but  while  his 
counsel  and  high  qualities  were  appreciated,  he  was  too  honest  a  man  to  cope 
with  the  tortuous  politics  of  the  time,  and  proved  unable  to  avert  the  capture 
and  sack  of  Rome  (1527)  or  the  imprisonment  of  the  pope.  These  catastrophes, 
together  with  a  malicious  and  easily  disproved  charge  of  treason  brought 
against  him,  preyed  upon  his  health,  and  despite  the  many  honours  conferred 
upon  him  by  Charles,  he  failed  to  rally,  and  finally  died  at  Toledo,  7  February 
1529,  without  again  seeing  his  native  land.  His  body  was  afterwards  brought 
to  Italy  and  buried  in  the  church  of  the  Madonna  delle  Grazie  near  Mantua, 
where  his  tomb  was  erected  from  designs  by  his  young  friend  Giulio  Romano. 

Besides  The  Courtier,  his  writings  comprise:  Tirsi,  an  eclogue  of  fifty- 
five  stanzas  in  ottatia  rima,  written  and  recited  at  the  court  of  Urbino  for  the 
carnival  of  1506;  a  prologue  and  epilogue  for  his  friend  Bibbiena's  Calandra ; 
a  few  Italian  lyrics  of  moderate  merit;  and  some  better  Latin  elegies  and  epi- 



grams;  nearly  all  composed  during  his  embassy  at  Rome.    A  large  number 
of  his  letters  also  have  been  preserved. 

His  fine  character  is  reflected  in  that  of  his  Courtier,  who  (as  Symonds  says) 
"  is,  with  one  or  two  points  of  immaterial  difference,  a  modern  gentleman,  such 
as  all  men  of  education  at  the  present  day  would  wish  to  be."  It  may  perhaps 
aid  the  reader  to  realize  the  time  in  which  the  author  lived,  to  recall  that  when 
Castiglione  was  born,  printing  had  been  practised  in  Italy  for  thirteen  years, 
that  the  earliest  Greek  grammar  had  been  printed  two  years,  that  America 
was  discovered  when  he  was  a  boy,  that  the  Reformation  began  when  he  was 
in  the  prime  of  life,  and  that  the  Lutherans  were  first  called  Protestants  in  the 
year  of  his  death. 

The  first  (Aldine)  edition  of  The  Courtier  was  issued  thirteen  years 
after  the  death  of  Teohaldo  Manucci,  the  illustrious  founder  of  the  press  that 
continued  to  bear  his  name,  and  consisted  of  one  thousand  and  thirty-one 
copies,  of  which  thirty  were  on  large  paper  and  one  on  vellum.  It  is  a  small 
folio  of  one  hundred  and  twenty-two  leaves,  the  type-page  measuring  almost 
precisely  nine  and  one-quarter  inches  by  five  and  one-eighth  inches.  In  its 
ordinary  form  the  book  can  hardly  be  called  rare,  as  in  1895  the  present  trans- 
lator secured  a  good  copy  from  Leipsic  for  forty-five  francs. 

The  earliest  Spanish  translator,  BOSCAN,  (born  at  Barcelona  about  1493; 
died  in  France  about  1542),  was  of  gentle  birth.  Early  becoming  a  soldier,  he 
served  with  credit  in  Charles  V's  Italian  campaigns,  and  thus  acquired  famili- 
arity with  the  language  and  literature  of  Italy.  He  is  said  to  have  known 
Castiglione  personally.  Having  been  for  some  time  tutor  to  the  young  prince 
who  was  later  known  as  the  Duke  of  Alva,  he  married  and  devoted  the  rest  of 
his  short  life  to  letters.  As  a  writer  he  is  best  known  as  the  founder  of  the 
Italian  poetical  school  in  Spain,  Ticknor  says  that  Boscan's  version  of  THE 
Courtier  hardly  professes  to  be  literal,  but  that  perhaps  nothing  in  Cas- 
tilian  prose  of  an  earlier  date  is  written  in  so  classical  and  finished  a  style. 
It  has  been  often  reprinted  (as  recently  as  1873),  and  was  found  useful  by  the 
present  translator  in  doubtful  passages. 

The  earliest  French  translator,  CoLIN,  (died  1547),  was  a  native  of  Auxerre 
and  enjoyed  the  favour  of  Francis  I,  whom  he  served  as  reader  and  almoner, 
and  who  bestowed  upon  him  the  abbotship  of  St.  Ambrose  at  Tours,  as  well 
as  other  ecclesiastical  offices.  In  his  prosperity  he  showed  much  kindness  to 
his  less  fortunate  brother  authors,  but  he  was  too  free  of  speech  to  be  perma- 
nently successful  as  a  courtier,  and  lost  his  preferments.  His  translation  of 
The  Courtier,  which  some  writers  erroneously  ascribe  to  Jean  Chaperon, 
is  little  esteemed,  was  soon  issued  with  corrections  by  another  hand,  and  then 
followed  by  another  French  version.  He  translated  also  parts  of  Homer  and 
Ovid,  and  composed  original  verse  in  Latin  and  French.  For  an  account  of 
Castiglione's  influence  upon  French  literature  and  of  his  many  French  imita- 
tors, consult  Pietro  Toldo's  "  Le  Courtisan  dans  la  litt^rature  fran9aise  et  ses 



rapports  avec  I'oeuvre  du  Castiglione,"  (Archiv  fur  das  Studium  der  Neueren 
Sprachen  und  Litteraturen,  C.  iv,  pp.  75  and  313,  and  C.  v,  p.  60). 

The  earliest  English  translator,  HOBY,  (born  1530;  died  1566),  was  the  son 
of  William  and  Katherine  (Forden)  Hoby  of  Herefordshire.  Having  studied 
at  Cambridge,  he  visited  France,  Italy  and  other  foreign  countries.  In  1565-6 
he  was  knighted  by  Queen  Elizabeth  and  sent  as  ambassador  to  France,  where 
he  soon  died,  leaving  several  children  and  a  widow.  This  lady  was  the  third 
of  Sir  Anthony  Cooke's  five  learned  daughters,  of  whom  the  eldest  married  Sir 
William  Cecil  (afterwards  Lord  Burleigh),  while  the  second  became  the  mother 
of  Francis  Bacon,  Lord  Verulam.  Interesting  details  of  Hoby's  life  and  of  the 
manners  of  the  time  are  given  in  his  unpublished  diary,  preserved  in  the  British 
Museum.  His  version  of  The  Courtier  was  carefully  made,  and  although 
rough  to  our  ears  and  occasionally  obscure,  it  became  very  popular  and  was 
several  times  republished.  A  beautiful  reprint  of  the  original  edition  has 
recently  been  issued  (1900),  in  a  scholarly  introduction  to  which  Professor 
Walter  Raleigh  traces  the  influence  of  the  book  upon  Elizabethan  writers. 
The  Courtier,  and  especially  Hoby's  translation  of  it,  are  the  subject  of 
a  very  interesting  study  by  Mary  Augusta  Scott,  Ph.D.,  printed  in  the  Publi- 
cations of  the  Modern  Language  Association  of  America,  vol.  xvi  (1901),  no.  4. 
In  1570  Roger  Ascham  wrote  in  his  "Schoolmaster:"  "To  join  learning  with 
comely  exercises.  Count  Baldesar  Castiglione  in  his  book  CORTEGIANO  doth 
trimly  teach:  which  book,  advisedly  read  and  diligently  followed  but  one  year 
at  home  in  England,  would  do  a  young  gentleman  more  good,  I  wis,  than  three 
years'  travel  abroad  in  Italy.  And  I  marvel  this  book  is  not  more  read  in  the 
Court  than  it  is,  seeing  it  is  so  well  translated  into  English  by  a  worthy  gentle- 
man, Sir  Thomas  Hobbie,  who  was  many  ways  well  furnished  with  learning, 
and  very  expert  in  knowledge  of  divers  tongues." 

Of  the  first  German  translator,  LORENZ  Kratzer,  little  more  is  known  than 
that  he  was  an  officer  of  customs  at  Burckhausen,  in  Bavaria,  from  1565  to 
1588,  and  that  he  speaks  of  having  devoted  to  letters  the  ample  leisure  which 
his  duties  permitted.  Although  said  to  be  meritorious,  his  work  can  hardly 
have  gained  wide  currency,  as  both  Noyse  (whose  German  translation  of  THE 
Courtier  was  published  at  Dilingen  in  1593)  and  a  third  German  translator 
(whose  version  was  issued  at  Frankfort  in  1684  under  the  initials  "J.  C.  L.  L.  J.") 
seem  to  have  regarded  themselves  each  as  the  easiest  in  the  field. 

The  first  Latin  translator,  TuRLER,  (born  1550;  died  1602),  was  a  Doctor 
Juris,  and  became  burgomaster  of  his  native  town  of  Lossnitz,  near  Leipsic. 
Besides  THE  COURTIER,  he  translated  several  of  Machiavelli's  works  into 



Note  I,  page  i.  Dom  MIGUEL  DE  SiLVA,  (born  about  1480;  died  1556), 
was  the  second  son  of  Diogo  da  Silva  and  Maria  de  Ayala,  Count  and  Countess 
of  Portalegre,  a  province  of  central  Portugal.  Having  studied  at  the  univer- 
sities of  Paris,  Siena  and  Bologna,  he  was  soon  called  to  the  court  of  Emanuel 
of  Portugal,  held  various  ecclesiastical  posts,  and  was  made  Bishop  of  Viseu 
in  the  Province  of  Beira.  As  ambassador  to  Popes  Leo  X,  Adrian  VI  and 
Clement  VII,  he  paid  long  visits  to  Rome,  where  his  friendship  with  Casti- 
glione  probably  began.  During  the  twenty  years  that  followed  1521  he  served 
John  III  of  Portugal  as  Escribano  de  la  Puridad;  then,  having  been  made  a 
cardinal  by  Paul  III,  he  spent  the  remainder  of  his  life  in  the  papal  service, 
died  in  Rome,  and  was  buried  in  the  church  of  Santa  Maria  in  Trastevere. 
Eminent  as  a  prelate  and  a  diplomatist,  he  also  enjoyed  no  small  repute  as  an 
author  and  an  elegant  Latinist. 

Note  2,  page  i.  GUIDOBALDO  Dl  MONTEFELTRO,  Duke  of  Urbino,  (bom 
1472;  died  1508),  was  the  only  son  of  Duke  Federico  di  Montefeltro  and 
Battista  Sforza,  an  accomplished  niece  of  the  first  Sforza  duke  of  Milan.  Pre- 
cocious as  a  child,  he  was  elaborately  yet  judiciously  educated,  and  much  of 
the  praise  bestowed  upon  him  in  The  Courtier  is  shown  by  contemporary 
evidence  to  have  been  just.  On  his  father's  death  in  1482,  both  he  and  his  State 
were  confided  to  his  cousin  Ubaldini  (see  note  273),  who  seems  to  have  been 
loyal  to  the  trust,  although  next  heir  to  the  duchy.  From  records  that  have 
survived,  Dennistoun  extracts  some  details  of  the  young  duke's  court:  "To  all 
persons  composing  the  ducal  household,  unexceptionable  manners  were  indis- 
pensable. In  those  of  higher  rank  there  were  further  required  competent  tal- 
ents and  learning,  a  grave  deportment,  and  fluency  of  speech.  The  servants 
must  be  of  steady  habits  and  respectable  character;  regular  in  all  private 
transactions;  of  good  address,  modest  and  graceful;  willing  and  neat  handed 
in  their  service.  There  is  likewise  inculcated  the  most  scrupulous  personal 
cleanliness,  especially  of  the  hands,  with  particular  injunctions  as  to  frequent 
ablutions,  and  extraordinary  precautions  against  the  unpleasant  effects  of  hot 
weather  on  their  persons  and  clothing;  in  case  of  need,  medical  treatment  is 
enjoined  to  correct  the  breath.  Those  who  wore  livery  had  two  suits  a  year, 
generally  of  fustian,  though  to  some  silk  doublets  were  given  for  summer  use." 

In  1489  Guidobaldo  married  Elisabetta  Gonzaga,  a  sister  of  the  Marquess  of 
Mantua.  All  hopes,  however,  of  an  heir  were  soon  abandoned,  apparently 
owing  to  the  young  duke's  physical  infirmities,  which  were  increased  by  over 
exercise  and  in  time  unfitted  him  for  all  active  occupations.  Nevertheless  he 
was  able  to  take  part  in  the  vain  resistance  to  Charles  VIII's  invasion  of  Italy, 
and  later  in  the  expulsion  of  the  French  from  the  kingdom  of  Naples.    'While 



fighting  in  the  service  of  Pope  Alexander  VI  in  1497,  he  was  taken  prisoner 
and  forced  to  pay  a  ransom  of  30,000  ducats,  a  sum  then  equivalent  to  about 
twice  that  number  of  modern  pounds  sterling,  and  raised  only  at  the  sacrifice 
of  his  duchess's  jewels.  In  1501  he  aided  rather  than  opposed  Louis  XII's 
invasion  of  Naples. 

In  1502  the  pope's  son  Cesare  Borgia  treacherously  seized  the  Duchy  of 
Urbino.  To  spare  his  people  bloodshed  and  ruin,  Guidobaldo  fled  in  disguise 
to  his  brother-in-law  at  Mantua,  and  after  a  vain  appeal  to  Louis  XII,  found 
an  honourable  asylum  at  Venice.  In  the  same  year  he  regained  his  dominions 
for  a  short  time,  but  was  again  forced  to  take  flight.  On  the  death  of  Alex- 
ander VI  (August  1503),  Cesare's  power  crumbled,  Guidobaldo  easily  recov- 
ered his  duchy,  and  his  position  was  soon  assured  by  the  election  of  Julius  II, 
who  was  not  only  his  personal  friend,  but  also  the  brother  of  his  sister  Gio- 
vanna's  husband.  In  1504  he  formally  adopted  as  his  heir  this  sister's  son, 
Francesco  Maria  della  Rovere,  and  (as  we  have  seen)  took  into  his  service  the 
future  author  of  The  Courtier.  His  learning,  amiability  and  munificence 
attracted  choice  spirits  to  his  court,  which  came  to  be  regarded  as  the  first  in 
Italy.  Pope  Julius  was  splendidly  entertained  there  on  his  way  both  to  and 
from  his  Bologna  campaign,  and  the  Courtier  dialogues  are  represented  as 
taking  place  immediately  after  his  departure  for  Rome  in  March  1507. 

Long  an  invalid,  Guidobaldo  became  more  and  more  a  martyr  to  his  gout, 
which  was  aggravated  by  a  season  of  exceptional  drought  and  cold  and  brought 
him  final  relief  from  suffering  in  April  1508.  His  fame  rests,  not  upon  his 
military  and  political  achievements,  but  upon  the  beauty  of  his  character,  the 
variety  of  his  intellectual  accomplishments,  the  patience  with  which  he 
endured  reverses,  illness  and  forced  inaction,  and  upon  the  culture  and 
refinement  that  characterized  his  court. 

Note  3,  page  i.  Francesco  Maria  della  Rovere,  Duke  of  Urbino,  (born 
1490;  died  1538),  was  the  son  of  Giovanni  della  Rovere  and  Duke  Guidobaldo's 
sister  Giovanna  di  Montefeltro.  Giovanni  was  a  nephew  of  Pope  Sixtus  IV 
(who  had  made  him  Prefect  of  Rome),  and  a  younger  brother  of  Cardinal 
Giuliano  della  Rovere,  afterwards  Pope  Julius  II. 

On  his  father's  death  in  1501,  Francesco  was  brought  to  the  court  of  his 
uncle  Guidobaldo,  who  secured  for  him  a  renewal  of  the  Prefecture  and  super- 
intended his  education.  In  The  Courtier  he  appears  as  "  my  lord  Prefect." 
During  the  Borgian  usurpation  of  the  duchy,  he  found  refuge  at  the  court  of 
Louis  XII;  and  soon  after  the  fall  of  the  Borgias  and  his  uncle  Julius  II's  acces- 
sion, he  was  adopted  as  Guidobaldo's  heir,  while  through  the  mediation  of 
Castiglione  a  marriage  was  arranged  for  him  with  Eleanora,  daughter  to  the 
Marquess  of  Mantua  and  niece  to  the  Duchess  of  Urbino.  He  now  resided 
chiefly  with  his  uncle,  acquainting  himself  with  his  future  subjects  and  duties. 
Although  he  possessed  many  of  the  good  qualities  ascribed  to  him  in  The 
Courtier,  his  temper  was  ungovernable,  and  before  reaching  the  age  of 
eighteen  he  slew  one  of  the  members  of  the  court,  who  was  accused  of 
•educing  his  sister. 



Having  become  duke  in  1508,  he  was  married  on  Christmas  Eve  of  that 
year.  In  the  following  spring  he  commanded  the  papal  forces  in  the  League 
of  Cambray,  and  despite  the  obstacles  put  in  his  way  by  his  colleague  Cardinal 
Alidosi  (see  note  268),  he  soon  reduced  the  Romagna  towns,  the  recovery  of 
which  from  Venice  was  Julius  II's  chief  object  in  forming  the  league.  In  a 
later  campaign  against  the  French,  Bologna  was  lost  to  the  Church  (1511) 
through  the  treachery  of  Alidosi,  who  craftily  contrived  to  have  the  blame  fall 
upon  Francesco,  and  was  murdered  by  the  latter  at  Ravenna.  After  a  long 
trial  before  six  cardinals,  in  which  ample  proof  of  the  dead  man's  treason  was 
presented,  and  an  eloquent  appeal  made  by  Beroaldo  (see  note  235),  —  the 
young  duke  was  acquitted  and  restored  to  the  pope's  favour. 

Although  both  Francesco  and  his  predecessor  had  generously  befriended 
the  Medici  during  their  exile  from  Florence  (1494-1512),  Leo  X  (Giovanni  de' 
Medici)  seized  his  duchy  in  1516,  to  bestow  it  on  a  nephew,  Lorenzo  de'  Medici. 
It  is  needless  to  speak  here  of  Francesco's  restoration  in  1521,  of  his  failure  to 
relieve  Pope  Clement  VII  when  Rome  was  sacked  in  1527,  or  of  his  later  life. 

W^hile  small  in  person,  Francesco  was  active  and  well  formed.  His  man- 
ners were  gentle  and  his  character  forgiving,  in  spite  of  his  fiery  temper. 
Strict  in  religious  observances  and  an  enemy  to  blasphemous  language,  he 
was  also  creditably  intolerant  of  those  outrages  upon  womanly  honour  with 
which  war  was  then  fraught.  He  was  famous  chiefly  as  a  soldier,  and  by  so 
competent  a  judge  as  the  Emperor  Charles  V  was  regarded  as  master  of  the 
military  science  of  his  day. 

Note  4,  page  i.  This  disclaimer  of  careful  authorship  is  not  to  be  taken  too 
literally.  At  least  a  draft  of  Books  I-III  seems  to  have  been  made  at  Urbino 
between  April  1508  and  May  1509,  while  Book  IV  was  probably  written  at 
Rome  in  the  earlier  part  of  the  interval  between  September  1513  and  March 
1516.  Castiglione  apparently  continued  to  revise  his  work  until  1518,  when  he 
sent  his  MS.  to  Bembo.  See  Silvestro  Marcello's  pamphlet,  "  La  Cronologia 
del  Cortegiano  di  Baldesar  Castiglione."    Pisa,  1895. 

Note  5,  page  i.  As  has  been  seen,  Castiglione  resided  at  the  Spanish  court 
from  1524  until  his  death  in  1529. 

Note  6,  page  i.  VlTTORIA  COLONNA,  (born  1490;  died  1547),  was  the  daugh- 
ter of  Fabrizio  Colonna  (grand-nephew  of  Pope  Martin  V)  and  Agnese  di 
Montefeltro,  a  sister  of  Duke  Guidobaldo.  At  the  age  of  four  she  was  betrothed 
to  the  Marquess  of  Pescara,  whom  she  married  in  her  nineteenth  year  at 
Ischia  (the  fief  and  residence  of  his  family),  and  who  afterwards  became  a 
famous  soldier.  During  his  long  absences  in  the  field,  she  consoled  herself 
with  books,  and  after  his  death  in  1525,  her  widowhood  was  spent  in  retirement 
and  finally  in  semi-monastic  seclusion  at  Rome.  The  time  spared  from  pious 
exercises  she  devoted  to  study,  the  composition  of  poetry,  correspondence 
with  illustrious  men  of  letters,  and  the  society  of  learned  persons.  Although 
she  never  became  a  convert  to  Protestantism,  the  liberality  of  some  of  her 


friends'  belief  exposed  her  to  ecclesiastical  censure  in  her  old  age.  Her  cele- 
brated friendship  with  Michelangelo  began  when  he  was  past  sixty  and  she 
had  nearly  reached  fifty  years.  They  frequently  exchanged  verses,  and  he  is 
said  to  have  visited  her  on  her  death-bed.  Her  poems  are  chiefly  sonnets  to 
the  memory  of  her  husband  or  verses  on  sacred  and  moral  subjects. 

Note  7,  page  i.  The  following  passage  is  from  a  letter  written  by  Castiglione 
to  the  Marchioness:  "  I  am  the  more  deeply  obliged  to  your  Ladyship,  because 
the  necessity  you  have  put  me  under,  of  sending  the  book  at  once  to  the  printer, 
relieves  me  from  the  trouble  of  adding  many  things  that  I  had  already  prepared 
in  my  mind, —  things  (I  need  hardly  say)  of  little  import,  like  the  rest  of  the 
book;  so  that  your  Ladyship  has  saved  the  reader  from  tedium,  and  the  author 
from  blame." 

Despite  the  many  decrees  of  popes,  emperors  and  other  potentates,  literary 
piracy  seems  to  have  been  quite  as  common  in  Castiglione's  time  as  in  ours. 
He  was  obviously  none  too  prompt  in  his  precautions,  as  an  apparently  unau- 
thorized edition  of  The  Courtier  was  issued  at  Florence  by  the  heirs  of 
Filippo  di  Giunta  in  the  October  following  its  first  publication  at  Venice  in 
April  1528. 

Note  8,  page  2.  Alfonso  Ariosto,  (died  1526),  was  a  cousin  of  the  poet 
Ludovico.  Little  more  seems  to  be  known  of  him  than  that  his  father's  name 
was  Bonifazio,  that  he  was  a  gentle  cavalier  and  brave  soldier  in  the  service  of 
the  Este  family,  and  that  he  was  a  friend  of  Castiglione  and  of  Bembo.  His  name 
appears  at  the  head  of  each  of  the  four  dialogues  composing  The  Courtier, 
and  they  purport  to  have  been  written  at  his  suggestion.  Senor  A.  M.  Fabid, 
in  his  notes  to  the  1873  reprint  of  Boscan's  translation,  affirms  that  Alfonso 
Ariosto  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  poet  Ludovico,  belonged  to  a  noble 
Bolognese  family,  and  enjoyed  much  favour  at  the  court  of  Francis  I  of 

Note  9,  page  2.  GiULiANO  DE'  Medici,  (born  1478;  died  1516),  was  the  third 
son  of  Lorenzo  the  Magnificent  and  Clarice  Orsini.  His  education  seems  to 
have  been  for  a  time  entrusted  to  the  famous  scholar-poet  Poliziano  (see  note 
105).  During  his  family's  exile  from  Florence  (1494-1512),  he  resided  much  at 
the  court  of  Urbino,  where  he  was  known  as  "the  Magnifico  Giuliano,"  and 
where  one  wing  of  the  great  palace  was  reserved  to  his  use  and  is  still  called 
by  his  name.  He  became  the  father  of  a  boy  afterwards  known  as  Cardinal 
Ippolito  de'  Medici, —  the  original  of  Titian's  fine  portrait  in  the  Pitti  Gallery. 
On  the  restoration  of  the  Medici,  Giuliano  was  placed  at  the  head  of  affairs  in 
his  native  city  and  succeeded  in  winning  the  good  will  of  the  Florentines,  but 
his  gentle  disposition  and  love  of  ease  thwarted  other  ambitious  projects  formed 
for  his  advancement  by  his  brother  Leo  X,  and  he  was  too  grateful  to  the  dukes 
of  Urbino  for  their  hospitality  to  accept  the  pope's  intended  appropriation  of 
their  duchy  for  his  benefit.  In  1515  he  married  Filiberta  of  Savoy  and  was 
created  Duke  of  Nemours  by  her  nephew  Francis  I  of  France.    In  the  same 



year  he  was  appointed  Captain  General  of  the  Church,  but  failing  health  pre- 
vented his  actual  service,  and  he  soon  died  of  fever  at  Florence,  not  without 
suspicion  of  poison  at  the  hands  of  his  nephew  Lorenzo. 

Several  of  his  sonnets  have  survived,  and  are  said  to  show  no  mean  poetic 
faculty.  Apart,  however,  from  his  appearance  as  an  interlocutor  in  The 
Courtier  and  in  Bembo's  Prose,  his  memory  is  best  preserved  by  Michel- 
angelo's famous  tomb  at  Florence. 

Note  10,  page  2.  "Messer  Bernardo"  (Dovizi),  better  known  by  the 
name  of  his  birthplace  Bibbiena,  (born  1470;  died  1520),  was  of  humble 
parentage.  His  elder  brother  Pietro  was  secretary  to  Lorenzo  de'  Medici,  and 
secured  his  admission  to  the  Magnifico's  household,  where  he  shared  the 
education  of  the  young  Giovanni  and  became  a  devoted  friend  of  that  future 
pope.  Following  the  Medici  into  exile,  he  travelled  about  Europe  with  Gio- 
vanni and  attended  Giuliano  to  Urbino,  where  he  received  the  warm  welcome 
always  accorded  there  to  such  as  combined  learning  with  courtly  manners. 
By  the  Duke  of  Urbino  he  seems  to  have  been  so  commended  to  the  favour  of 
Julius  II,  that  he  was  able  to  aid  Michelangelo  in  securing  part  payment  for 
the  Sistine  Chapel  frescoes,  of  which  payment,  however,  he  accepted  five  per 
cent,  as  a  gift  from  the  painter.  At  the  death  of  Julius,  he  was  secretary  to 
his  friend  Cardinal  Giovanni  de'  Medici,  and  in  that  capacity  had  access  to 
the  conclave,  where  his  adroitness  was  largely  helpful  in  effecting  his  patron's 
election  as  pope.  Leo  at  once  made  him  Cardinal  of  Santa  Maria  in  Portico 
and  loaded  him  with  lucrative  offices.  During  the  Medicean  usurpation  of  the 
Duchy  of  Urbino,  he  showed  no  gratitude  for  the  kindness  enjoyed  by  him  at 
that  court.  He  became  very  rich,  and  was  a  liberal  patron  of  authors  and  ar- 
tists. Raphael  devised  to  him  the  house  of  the  architect  Bramante,  which  the 
painter  had  bought  for  a  sum  equivalent  to  about  ;£'6,ooo,  and  which  was  after- 
wards demolished  in  extending  the  piazza  in  front  of  St.  Peter's. 

Besides  a  large  number  of  his  letters,  for  the  most  part  unpublished,  we 
have  his  play,  Calandra,  founded  upon  the  Mencechmi  of  Plautus  and  once 
esteemed  as  the  earliest  Italian  prose  comedy. 

Although  he  was  bald,  and  although  his  friend  Raphael's  portrait  hardly 
justifies  the  epithet,  he  was  known  as  the '^ Bel  Bernardo."  A  contemporary 
MS.  in  the  Vatican  describes  him  as  "  a  facetious  character,  with  no  mean 
powers  of  ridicule,  and  much  tact  in  promoting  jocular  conversation  by  his 
wit  and  well-timed  jests.  He  was  a  great  favourite  with  certain  cardinals, 
whose  chief  pursuit  was  pleasure  and  the  chase,  for  he  thoroughly  knew  all 
their  habits  and  fancies,  and  was  even  aware  of  whatever  vicious  propensities 
they  had.  He  likewise  possessed  a  singular  pliancy  for  flattery,  and  for  obse- 
quiously accommodating  himself  to  their  whims,  stooping  patiently  to  be  the 
butt  of  insulting  and  abusive  jokes,  and  shrinking  from  nothing  that  could 
render  him  acceptable  to  them.  He  also  had  much  readiness  in  council,  and 
was  perfectly  able  seasonably  to  qualify  his  wit  with  wisdom,  or  to  dissemble 
with  singular  cunning."  On  the  other  hand,  Bembo  wrote  of  him  to  their 
friend  Federico  Fregoso:  "The  days  seem  years  until  I  see  him,  and  enjoy 



the  pleasing  society,  the  charming  conversation,  the  wit,  the  jests,  the  features 
and  the  affection  of  that  man." 

It  was  to  Bibbiena,  a  few  weeks  before  his  death  in  1520,  that  Isabella 
d'Este,  dowager  Marchioness  of  Mantua  (see  note  397),  entrusted  the  duty  of 
breaking  as  gently  as  possible  to  Castiglione  (then  Mantuan  ambassador  at 
Rome)  the  news  of  the  sudden  death  of  the  latter's  young  wife.  "  We  told  him 
the  sad  news,"  wrote  Bibbiena,  "  as  best  we  could, . .  .  none  of  us  could  keep 
back  our  tears,  and  we  all  wept  together  for  some  time." 

Note  II,  page  2.  Ottaviano  Fregoso,  (died  1524),  belonged  to  a  noble 
Genoese  family  that  had  long  distinguished  itself  in  public  service  and  had 
furnished  several  doges  to  the  Republic.  His  parents  were  Agostino  Fregoso 
and  Gentile  di  Montefeltro,  a  half-sister  of  Duke  Guidobaldo.  Driven  from 
Genoa  as  early  as  1497,  he  entered  his  uncle's  court  at  Urbino  and  rendered 
important  military  services,  especially  during  the  struggle  with  Cesare  Borgia, 
in  which  he  gallantly  defended  the  fortress  of  San  Leo  (see  note  275),  and 
was  rewarded  with  the  lordship  of  Santa  Agata  in  the  Apennines.  In  1506  he 
commanded  the  papal  forces  for  the  recovery  of  Bologna,  and  later  in  the  League 
of  Cambray  against  Venice.  In  1513  he  succeeded  in  putting  an  end  to  French 
domination  in  Genoa,  was  elected  doge,  and  ruled  so  beneficently  for  two  years 
that  when  Francis  I  regained  the  city,  Fregoso  was  continued  as  governor. 
In  1522  Genoa  was  captured  and  sacked  by  Spanish  and  German  troops,  and 
Fregoso  given  over  to  the  Marquess  of  Pescara,  treated  harshly  (despite 
Castiglione's  intercession  on  his  behalf),  and  carried  to  Ischia,  where  he  died. 

Note  12,  page  2.  "  My  lady  Duchess,"  Elisabetta  Gonzaqa,  (born  1471; 
died  1526),  was  the  second  daughter  of  the  Marquess  Federico  Gonzaga  of 
Mantua  and  Margarita  of  Bavaria.  She  married  Duke  Guidobaldo  in  1489. 
In  1502  she  reluctantly  attended  the  festivities  for  the  marriage,  at  Ferrara,  of 
Lucrezia  Borgia  to  Alfonso  d'Este,  and  some  of  her  costumes  are  thus 
described  by  an  eye-witness:  On  entering  Ferrara,  she  rode  a  black  mule 
caparisoned  in  black  velvet  embroidered  with  woven  gold,  and  wore  a  mantle 
of  black  velvet  strewn  with  triangles  of  beaten  gold,  a  string  of  pearls  about 
her  neck,  and  a  cap  of  gold;  another  day  indoors  she  wore  a  mantle  of  brown 
velvet  slashed,  and  caught  up  with  chains  of  massive  gold;  another  day  a 
gown  of  black  velvet  striped  with  gold,  with  a  jewelled  necklace  and  diadem; 
and  still  another  day,  a  black  velvet  robe  embroidered  ■with  gold  ciphers. 

During  the  Borgian  usurpation  of  their  duchy  in  the  same  year,  she  shared 
her  husband's  exile  at  Venice,  and  on  returning  to  Urbino  earlier  than  Guido- 
baldo, she  amused  herself  with  a  scenic  representation  of  the  chief  events  that 
had  occurred  during  their  absence.  She  cared  for  her  husband  tenderly  in  his 
illnesses,  administered  his  government  wisely  when  he  was  called  away,  and 
on  his  death  acted  as  regent  and  guardian  for  his  nephew  and  successor,  with 
whom  she  maintained  affectionate  relations  as  long  as  she  lived,  and  from 
appropriating  whose  dominions  she  strove  to  the  utmost  to  dissuade  Leo  X. 

Next  to  her  husband's  niece  by  marriage,  Emilia  Pia  (see  note  37),  her  closest 



friend  seems  to  have  been  her  brother's  wife,  the  famous  Isabella  d'Este  (see 
note  397),  with  whom  she  often  travelled  and  continually  corresponded  by 
letter.  Although  still  young  and  accounted  beautiful  at  her  husband's  death, 
she  remained  faithful  to  his  memory,  and  the  years  of  her  widowhood  were 
cheered  by  the  companionship  of  her  niece,  the  young  duchess  Eleanora  of 
Urbino  (see  note  432).  If  we  may  trust  universal  contemporary  opinion  of  her 
virtues  and  beauty,  the  author  of  The  Courtier  flattered  her  as  little  as  did 
the  painter  of  her  portrait  in  the  Uffizi  Gallery. 

Note  13,  page  3.  Vittoria  Colonna  seems  to  have  had  this  passage  in  mind 
when  she  wrote,  20  September  1524,  to  Castiglione  in  praise  of  his  book:  "It 
would  not  be  fitting  for  me  to  tell  you  what  I  think  of  it,  for  the  same 
reason  which  you  say  prevents  you  from  speaking  of  the  beauty  of  my  lady 

Note  14,  page  3.  GIOVANNI  BOCCACCIO,  (born  1313;  died  1375),  was  the  natural 
son  of  a  Florentine  tradesman  and  a  Frenchwoman  with  whom  his  father  had 
made  acquaintance  during  a  business  residence  at  Paris.  In  early  manhood 
he  engaged  in  commerce  at  Naples,  and  had  but  little  learning  in  his  youth, 
although  he  studied  law  for  a  time.  Erudition  and  authorship  became  the 
serious  enthusiasm  of  his  life,  owing  (it  is  said)  to  a  chance  visit  to  the  sup- 
posed tomb  of  Virgil  at  Naples.  In  middle  life  he  began  the  study  of  Greek  at 
his  friend  Petrarch's  suggestion;  and  although  he  never  acquired  more  than 
what  would  now  be  deemed  a  superficial  knowledge  of  that  language,  as  a 
Hellenist  he  had  no  precursor  in  Italy.  An  ardent  if  somewhat  unappreciative 
admirer  of  Dante  (whose  Dimna  Commedia  he  transcribed  with  his  own  hands), 
he  was  the  first  Italian  author  to  write  for  the  common  people,  instead  of  com- 
posing books  suited  only  to  the  learned  and  patrician  classes.  His  style  was 
formed  by  tireless  study  of  classic  models,  and  became  a  standard  for  imitation 
by  his  successors. 

Note  15,  page  3.  It  is  now  known  that  the  considerations  that  led  Boccaccio 
to  underrate  his  poems  and  tales,  ^were  ethical  rather  than  literary. 

Note  16,  page  5.  Theophrastus,  (born  374;  died  287  B.C.),  was  a  native  of 
Lesbos,  but  resided  at  Athens.  The  chief  disciple  and  successor  of  Aristotle, 
he  wrote  also  upon  a  great  variety  of  subjects  other  than  philosophy.  His 
best  known  work,  the  "Characters,"  is  a  collection  of  sprightly  sketches  of 
human  types.  La  Bruy^re's  famous  book  of  the  same  name  was  originally 
a  mere  translation  from  Theophrastus.  The  incident  mentioned  in  the  text  is 
thus  described  in  Cicero's  Brutus:  "When  he  asked  a  certain  old  woman  for 
how  much  she  would  sell  something,  and  she  answered  him  and  added, 
'Stranger,  it  can't  be  had  for  less,' — he  was  vexed  at  being  taken  for  a  stranger 
although  he  had  grown  old  at  Athens  and  spoke  to  perfection." 

Note  17,  page  5.     I.  e.,  pages  39-54. 


Note  i8,  page  5.  The  reference  here  is  to  Plato's  "  Republic,"  Xenophon's 
Cyropcedia,  and  Cicero's  De  Oratore. 

Note  19,  page  6.  In  the  letter  quoted  in  note  13,  Vittoria  Colonna  wrote:  "I 
do  not  marvel  at  your  portraying  a  perfect  courtier  well,  for  by  merely  holding 
a  mirrour  before  you  and  considering  your  inward  and  outward  parts,  you 
could  describe  him  as  you  have;  but  our  greatest  difficulty  being  to  know 
ourselves,  I  say  that  it  was  more  difficult  for  you  to  portray  yourself  than 
another  man." 

Note  20,  page  6.  More  than  140  editions  of  The  Courtier  have  been  pub- 
lished. Most  of  these  are  mentioned  in  the  list  printed  before  the  Index  of 
this  volume.  A  few  of  the  editions  there  set  down  differ  from  one  another 
only  in  title-page;  a  few  others,  perhaps,  exist  only  in  some  bibliographer's 
erroneous  mention.  Deductions  to  be  made  for  such  reasons,  however,  are 
probably  offset  by  other  editions  that  the  present  translator  has  failed  to  bring 
to  light. 

In  the  bibliographical  notes  appended  by  the  brothers  Volpi  to  their  (1733) 
edition.  The  Courtier  is  said  to  have  been  translated  into  Flemish ;  while  in 
his  preface  to  the  Sonzogno  (1890)  edition,  Corio  speaks  of  the  introduction  of 
the  book  into  Japan  in  the  17th  century,  and  also  of  a  Russian  translation  by 



Note  21,  page  ^.  "  Courtiership  "  is  a  sadly  awkward  rendering  of  the  Italian 
cortegiania,  which  implies  not  only  courtesy  and  courtliness,  but  all  the  many 
other  qualities  and  accomplishments  essential  to  the  perfect  Courtier  or  (what 
in  Castiglione's  time  was  the  same)  the  perfect  Gentleman. 

Note  22,  page  8.  The  extreme  dimensions  of  the  Duchy  of  Urbino  were  64 
miles  from  east  to  west,  and  60  miles  from  north  to  south.  Its  population 
did  not  much  exceed  150,000. 

Note  23,  page  8.  The  first  of  the  four  dialogues  is  represented  as  having  been 
held  on  the  evening  of  the  day  after  the  close  of  a  certain  visit  paid  by  Pope 
Julius  II  to  Urbino  on  his  return  from  a  successful  campaign  against  Bologna. 
This  visit  is  known  to  have  lasted  from  3  March  to  7  March  1507.  Cas- 
tiglione  returned  from  England  as  early  as  5  March,  on  which  date  he  wrote 
to  his  mother  from  Urbino:  "We  have  had  his  Holiness  here  for  two  days." 
It  seems  probable  that  this  fictitious  prolongation  of  his  absence  in  England 
was  simply  a  graceful  excuse  for  not  himself  appearing  in  the  dialogues. 

Note  24,  page  8.  There  were  a  fief  and  Count  of  Montefeltro  as  early  as  1154, 
and  his  son  was  made  Count  of  Urbino  in  1216,  from  which  time  their  male 
descendants  ruled  over  a  gradually  increased  territory  until  1508,  when  the 
duchy  passed  to  the  female  line.  The  name  Montefeltro  is  said  to  have  origi- 
nated in  that  of  a  temple  to  Jupiter  Feretrius,  which  in  Roman  times  occupied 
the  summit  of  the  crag  afterwards  known  as  San  Leo,  in  the  Duchy  of  Urbino. 

Note  25,  page  9.  Such  a  rule  as  that  of  the  usurping  Cesare  Borgia  (1502-3) 
can  hardly  have  been  welcome  to  a  population  accustomed  to  the  mild  sway 
of  the  Montefeltro  family. 

Note  26,  page  9.  "  DuKE  FEDERico"  Di  Montefeltro,  (born  1422;  died 
1482),  was  a  natural  son  of  Count  Guidantonio  di  Montefeltro,  as  appears  from 
the  act  of  legitimation  issued  by  Pope  Martin  V  and  also  from  his  father's 
testament,  by  virtue  whereof  (as  well  as  by  the  choice  of  the  people)  he  suc- 
ceeded his  half-brother  Count  Oddantonio  in  1444.  In  his  boyhood  he  resided 
fifteen  months  as  a  hostage  at  Venice.  Later  he  studied  the  theory  and  prac- 
tice of  war  at  the  Mantuan  court,  and  was  trained  in  the  humanities  by  the 
famous  Vittorino  da  Feltre.  In  1437  he  married  Gentile  Brancaleone,  who 
died  childless  in  1457.  Nearly  the  whole  of  his  life  was  spent  in  military  ser- 
vice, as  paid  ally,  now  of  one  prince,  now  of  another.  In  this  capacity  he 
became  not  only  the  most  noted  commander  of  his  time,  but  always  displayed 



perfect  and  exceptional  fidelity  to  the  causes  that  he  undertook.  In  1450  he 
lost  an  eye  and  suffered  a  fracture  of  the  nose  in  a  tournament;  contemporary 
portraits  represent  his  features  in  profile.  In  1454  he  began  the  construction 
of  the  great  palace  at  Urbino.  In  1460,  at  the  suggestion  of  Francesco  Sforza 
(whom  he  had  aided  to  become  Duke  of  Milan),  he  married  the  latter's  accom- 
plished niece  Battista  Sforza,  who  bore  him  seven  daughters  and  one  son, 
Guidobaldo.  In  1474  he  was  made  Duke  of  Urbino  and  appointed  Captain 
General  of  the  Church  by  Pope  Sixtus  IV,  and  was  unanimously  elected  a 
Knight  of  the  Garter.  He  died  of  fever  contracted  during  military  operations 
in  the  malarial  country  near  Ferrara.  The  vast  sums  spent  by  him  on  public 
buildings,  art  objects  and  books,  and  upon  the  maintenance  of  his  splendid 
household,  were  not  extorted  from  his  subjects,  but  were  received  from  foreign 
states  in  return  for  war  service.  Thus  at  the  close  of  his  life  he  drew  a  yearly 
stipend  equivalent  to  about  £'330,000. 

It  is  not  easy  to  draw  a  picture  of  his  character  that  shall  seem  unflattered. 
Vespasiano,  who  by  years  of  labour  collected  his  famous  library  for  him,  says 
that  his  "establishment  was  conducted  with  the  regularity  of  a  religious  frater- 
nity, rather  than  like  a  military  household.  Gambling  and  profanity  were 
unknown,  and  singular  decorum  of  language  was  observed,  whilst  many  noble 
youths,  sent  there  to  learn  good  manners  and  military  discipline,  were  reared 
under  the  most  exemplary  tuition.  He  regarded  his  subjects  as  his  children, 
and  was  at  all  times  accessible  to  hear  them  personally  state  their  petitions, 
being  careful  to  give  answers  without  unnecessary  delay.  He  walked  freely 
about  the  streets,  entering  their  shops  and  workrooms,  and  enquiring  into 
their  circumstances  with  paternal  interest.  ...  In  summer  he  was  in  the 
saddle  at  dawn,  and  rode  three  or  four  miles  into  the  country  with  half-a-dozen 
of  his  court  .  .  reaching  home  again  when  others  were  just  up.  After  mass, 
he  went  into  an  open  garden  and  gave  audience  to  all  comers  until  breakfast- 
time.  When  at  table,  he  listened  to  the  Latin  historians,  chiefly  Livy,  except 
in  Lent,  when  some  religious  book  was  read,  anyone  being  free  to  enter  the 
hall  and  speak  with  him  then.  His  fare  was  plain  and  substantial,  denying 
himself  sweet  dishes  and  wine,  except  drinks  of  pomegranates,  cherries,  apples, 
or  other  fruits.  After  dinner  and  supper,  an  able  judge  of  appeal  stated  in 
Latin  the  causes  brought  before  him,  on  which  the  duke  gave  judgment  in 
that  language;  .  .  .  When  his  mid-day  meal  was  finished,  if  no  one  appeared 
to  ask  audience,  he  retired  to  his  closet  and  transacted  private  business,  or 
listened  to  reading  until  evening  approached,  when  he  generally  walked  out, 
giving  patient  ear  to  all  who  accosted  him  in  the  streets.  He  then  occasion- 
ally visited  ...  a  meadow  belonging  to  the  Franciscans,  where  thirty  or 
forty  of  the  youths  brought  up  in  his  court  stripped  their  doublets,  and  played 
at  throwing  the  bar,  or  at  wrestling,  or  ball.  This  was  a  fine  sight,  which  the 
duke  much  enjoyed,  encouraging  the  lads,  and  listening  freely  to  all  until 
supper-time.  When  that  and  the  audiences  were  over,  he  repaired  to  a  pri- 
vate apartment  with  his  principal  courtiers,  whom,  after  some  familiar  talk, 
he  would  dismiss  to  bed,  taxing  them  with  their  sluggish  indulgence  of  a 



Note  27,  page  9.  In  a  Greek  epigram  written  in  a  book  borrowed  from  Duke 
Guidobaldo,  Poliziano  (see  note  105)  praises  the  lender  as  the  worthy  son  of  a 
father  who  never  suffered  defeat,  dvtK^Toio  Trarpof  yovov.  History  shows  that 
this  phrase  was  a  rhetorical  exaggeration,  but  it  became  almost  proverbial. 

Note  28,  page  g.  Although  long  since  despoiled  of  its  treasures,  the  palace 
is  still  one  of  the  architectural  monuments  of  Italy.  Many  writers  have  de- 
scribed its  magnificence,  —  some  of  the  fullest  accounts  being  those  by  Bernar- 
dino Baldi  (1553-1617);  Fr.  Arnold  {Der Hersogliche  Palast  von  Vrhino ;  Leipsic: 
1857);  J.  A.  Symonds  ("Italian  Byways;"  London:  1883;  pp.  129-155);  Charles 
Blanc  (Histoire  de  la  Renaissance  Artistique  en  Italic;  Paris:  1894;  ii,  87-90); 
and  Egidio  Calzini  (Urbino  e  i  Snoi  Monumenti ;  Florence:  1899;  pp.  9-46). 
Baldi's  description  will  be  found  reprinted  as  an  appendix  to  Rigutini's  (1889 
and  1892)  editions  of  The  Courtier. 

For  more  than  fourteen  years  Duke  Federico  employed  from  thirty  to  forty 
copyists  in  transcribing  Greek  and  Latin  MSS.  Not  only  the  classics,  but 
ecclesiastical  and  mediaeval  authors,  as  well  as  the  Italian  poets  and  humanists 
were  represented*  in  his  library,  which  contained  792  MSS.  Ultimately  the 
collection  was  sent  to  Rome,  where  it  forms  part  of  the  Vatican  Library. 

Note  29,  page  9.  Born  in  1422,  Duke  Federico  was  in  fact  sixty  years  old 
when  he  died. 

Note  30,  page  9.  In  his  Latin  epistle  to  Henry  VII  of  England,  Castiglione 
says  that  Duke  Guidobaldo  began  to  be  afflicted  with  gout  at  the  age  of  twenty- 
one  years. 

Note  31,  page  10.  ALFONSO  II  of  Naples,  (born  1448;  died  1495),  was  the 
eldest  son  of  Ferdinand  I  and  Isabelle  de  Clermont.  As  Duke  of  Calabria, 
commanding  the  papal  forces,  he  defeated  the  Florentine  league  in  1479,  and 
in  1481  drove  the  Turks  out  of  southern  Italy.  On  his  father's  death  in  1494, 
he  succeeded  to  the  crown  of  Naples;  but  having  rendered  himself  obnoxious 
to  his  subjects,  he  abdicated  in  favour  of  his  son  Ferdinand  just  before  the 
arrival  of  Charles  VIII  of  France,  and  took  refuge  in  a  Sicilian  convent,  where 
he  soon  died,  tortured  by  remorse  for  the  hideous  cruelties  that  he  had  perpe- 
trated. His  wife  was  Ippolita  Maria,  daughter  of  the  first  Sforza  duke  of 
Milan;  while  his  daughter  Isabella's  marriage  to  Giangaleazzo  Sforza,  the 
rightful  duke,  and  the  usurpation  of  the  latter's  uncle  Ludovico  "il  Moro" 
(see  note  302),  became  the  immediate  cause  of  the  first  French  invasion  of 
Italy  by  Charles  VIII. 

Note  32,  page  10.  Ferdinand  II  of  Naples,  (born  1469;  died  childless  1496), 
made  a  gallant  but  vain  stand  against  the  French,  and  retired  to  Ischia  with 
his  youthful  wife-aunt  Joanna.  W^hen  Charles  VIII  evacuated  Naples  after  a 
stay  of  only  fifty  days,  Ferdinand  was  soon  able,  with  the  help  of  his  cousin 
Ferdinand  the  Catholic's  famous  general  Consalvo  de  Cordova,  to  regain  his 



dominions,  but  died  a  few  weeks  later.  He  seems  to  have  had  no  lack  of  cour- 
age; by  his  mere  presence  he  once  overawed  a  mob  at  Naples,  and  he  was 
beloved  by  the  nation  in  spite  of  the  odious  tyranny  of  his  father  and  grand- 

Note  33,  page  lo.  Pope  Alexander  VI,  (born  1431 ;  died  1503),  was  Roderigo, 
the  son  of  Giuffredo  (or  Alfonso)  Lenzuoli  and  Juana  (or  Isabella)  Borgia,  a 
sister  of  Pope  Calixtus  III,  by  whom  the  youth  was  adopted  and  whose  sur- 
name he  assumed.  He  was  elected  pope  in  1492  through  bribery,  and  while 
striving  to  increase  the  temporal  power  of  the  Church,  directed  his  chief  efforts 
towards  the  establishment  of  a  great  hereditary  dominion  for  his  family.  Of 
his  five  children,  two  (Cesare  and  Lucrezia)  played  important  parts  in  his  plan. 
In  1495  he  joined  the  league  which  forced  Charles  VIII  to  retire  from  Italy, 
although  it  had  been  partly  at  his  instigation  that  the  French  invaded  the 
peninsula.  In  1498  Savonarola  was  burned  at  Florence  by  his  orders.  In 
1501  he  instituted  the  ecclesiastical  censorship  of  books.  He  is  believed  to 
have  died  from  accidentally  taking  a  poison  designed  by  him  for  a  rich  cardi- 
nal whose  possessions  he  wished  to  seize.  His  private  life  ^as  disgraced  by 
orgies,  of  which  the  details  are  unfit  for  repetition.  His  contemporary  Machia- 
velli  says:  "His  entire  occupation,  his  only  thought,  was  deception,  and  he 
always  found  victims.  Never  was  there  a  man  with  more  effrontery  in  asser- 
tion, more  ready  to  add  oaths  to  his  promises,  or  to  break  them."  While  Sis- 
mondi  terms  him  "the  most  odious,  the  most  publicly  scandalous,  and  the 
most  wicked  of  all  the  miscreants  who  ever  misused  sacred  authority  to  out- 
rage and  degrade  mankind." 

Note  34,  page  10.  Pope  JULIUS  II,  (born  1443;  died  1513),  was  Giuliano,  the 
second  son  of  Raffaele  della  Rovere  (only  brother  of  Pope  Sixtus  IV)  and  Teo- 
dora  Menerola.  Made  a  cardinal  soon  after  his  uncle's  election,  he  was  loaded 
with  sees  and  offices,  including  the  legateship  of  Picene  and  Avignon,  which 
latter  occasioned  his  prolonged  absence  from  Italy  and  afforded  him  an  escape 
from  the  wiles  of  his  inveterate  enemy  Alexander  VI.  The  outrages  with 
which  Alexander  sought  to  punish  his  sturdy  opposition  to  the  scandals  of  the 
Borgian  court,  aroused  in  him  a  fierceness  of  spirit  that  was  alien  to  the  seem- 
ing mildness  of  his  early  character  and  became  the  bane  of  his  own  pontificate. 
His  younger  brother  Giovanni  married  a  sister  of  Duke  Guidobaldo,  a  union 
that  cemented  the  friendship  between  the  two  families  and  furnished  the 
Duchy  of  Urbino  an  heir  in  the  person  of  Francesco  Maria  della  Rovere. 
When  Julius  engaged  Michelangelo  to  design  his  tomb,  the  old  basilica  of  St. 
Peter's  was  found  too  small  to  contain  it,  whereupon  the  pontiff  is  said  to  have 
decreed  that  a  new  church  be  built  to  receive  it,  and  blessed  the  laying  of  the 
first  stone  shortly  before  setting  out  on  his  campaign  against  Bologna  in  1506. 
In  1508  he  formed  the  League  of  Cambray  for  the  recovery  of  certain  papal 
fiefs  appropriated  by  Venice  at  the  time  of  Cesare  Borgia's  downfall,  and  in 
1511  the  so-called  Holy  League  for  the  expulsion  of  the  French  from  Italy. 
Italian  unity  was  the  unavowed  but  real  goal  at  which  his  policy  aimed. 



Although  a  munificent  patron  of  art  and  letters,  Julius  was  frugal  and  severe, 
—  a  man  of  action  rather  than  a  scholar  or  theologian.  In  giving  Michelangelo 
directions  for  the  huge  bronze  statue  at  Bologna,  he  said:  "  Put  a  sword  in  my 
hand;  of  letters  I  know  nothing."  Another  of  his  reported  sayings  is:  "If  we 
are  not  ourselves  pious,  why  should  we  prevent  others  from  being  so?" 

Note  35,  page  lo.  Although  unexpressed  in  the  original,  the  word  'learned' 
seems  necessary  to  complete  the  obvious  meaning  of  the  passage. 

From  his  tutor  Odasio  of  Padua,  we  learn  that  in  his  boyhood  Guidobaldo 
was  even  for  the  time  exceptionally  fond  of  study.  He  could  repeat  whole 
treatises  by  heart  ten  years  after  reading  them,  and  never  forgot  what  he 
resolved  to  retain.  Besides  his  classical  attainments,  he  appreciated  the 
Italian  poets,  and  showed  peculiar  aptitude  for  philosophy  and  history. 

Note  36,  page  10.  The  Italian  piacenolezsa  conveys  somewhat  the  same 
suggestion  of  humour  which  the  word  'pleasantness'  carried  with  it  to  the 
English  of  Elizabeth's  time,  and  which  still  survives  in  our  '  pleasantry.' 

Note  37,  page  11.  Emilia  Pia,  (died  1528),  was  the  youngest  daughter  of 
Marco  Pio,  one  of  the  lords  of  Carpi.  Her  brother  Giberto  married  a  natural 
daughter  of  Cardinal  Ippolito  d'Este  (see  note  64),  while  her  cousin  Alberto 
Pio  (1475-1530)  was  the  pupil  and  became  the  patron  and  financial  supporter 
of  the  scholar-printer  Aldus  Manutius.  In  1487  she  was  married  very  young 
to  the  studious  Count  Antonio  di  Montefeltro  (a  natural  half-brother  of  Duke 
Guidobaldo),  who  left  her  a  widow  in  1500.  She  resided  at  Urbino  and  became 
the  trusted  and  inseparable  companion  of  the  Duchess  Elisabetta,  whom  she 
accompanied  on  journeys  and  in  exile,  ever  faithful  in  misfortune  and  sorrow. 
In  the  duchess's  testament  she  was  named  as  legatee  and  executrix.  She 
seems  to  have  died  .without  the  sacraments  of  the  Church,  while  discussing 
passages  of  the  newly  published  Courtier  with  Count  Ludovico  Canossa. 
The  part  taken  by  her  in  these  dialogues  evinces  the  charm  of  her  winning 
manners  as  well  as  her  possession  of  a  variety  of  knowledge  and  graceful  accom- 
plishment rare  even  in  that  age  of  womanly  genius.  Always  ready  to  lead  or 
second  the  learned  and  sportive  pastimes  by  which  the  court  circle  of  Urbino 
gave  zest  to  their  intercourse  and  polish  to  their  wit,  she  was  of  infinite  service 
to  the  duchess,  whose  own  acquirements  were  of  a  less  brilliant  kind. 

Note  38,  page  11.  It  may  be  doubted  whether  the  duchess's  influence  always 
availed  to  secure  what  we  should  now  regard  as  decorous  behaviour  at  her 
court,  and  in  an  earlier  draft  of  The  Courtier  Castiglione  allowed  himself  a 
freedom,  not  to  say  licence,  of  expression  singularly  in  contrast  with  the  general 
tone  of  the  version  published. 

Note  39,  page  12.  The  duchess  and  her  husband  were  expelled  from  their 
dominions  by  Cesare  Borgia  in  1502,  and  again  in  1516  she  was  compelled  to 
leave  Urbino  for  a  longer  time,  when  Leo  X  seized  the  duchy  for  his  nephew 



Lorenzo  de'  Medici.    Her  conduct  on  these  occasions  showed  rare  fortitude 
and  dignity. 

Note  40,  page  12.  These  devices,  so  much  in  vogue  during  the  i6th  century 
in  Italy,  were  the  "inventions"  which  Giovio  (a  contemporary  writer  upon  the 
subject)  says  "the  great  lords  and  noble  cavaliers  of  our  time  like  to  wear  on 
their  armour,  caparisons  and  banners,  to  signify  a  part  of  their  generous 
thoughts."  They  consisted  of  a  figure  or  picture,  and  a  motto  nearly  always 
in  Latin.  The  fashion  is  said  to  have  been  copied  from  the  French  at  the  time 
of  the  invasions  of  Charles  VIII  and  Louis  XII. 

Note  41,  page  12.  Federico  FregoSO,  (born  1480;  died  1541),  was  a  younger 
brother  of  Ottaviano  (see  note  11),  and  was  educated  for  holy  orders  under  the 
direction  of  his  uncle  Duke  Guidobaldo,  at  whose  court  he  also  perfected  him- 
self in  worldly  accomplishments.  In  1507  Julius  II  made  him  Archbishop  of 
Salerno,  in  the  kingdom  of  Naples,  but,  owing  to  his  supposed  French  sympa- 
thies, he  was  not  allowed  to  enjoy  this  benefice,  and  the  next  year  was  put  in 
charge  of  the  bishopric  of  Gubbio.  In  the  same  year  he  was  sent  by  Julius 
with  the  latter's  physician  to  attend  Duke  Guidobaldo's  death-bed,  but  arrived 
too  late.  During  the  nine  years  that  followed  his  brother's  election  as  Doge 
of  Genoa  (1513),  he  by  turns  commanded  the  army  of  the  Republic,  led  her  fleet 
against  the  Barbary  pirates  (whom  he  routed  in  their  own  harbours),  and  rep- 
resented her  at  the  papal  court.  During  the  Spanish  siege  of  Genoa  in  1522, 
he  escaped  to  France,  was  warmly  received  by  Francis  I,  and  made  Abbot  of  St. 
B^nigne  at  Dijon,  where  he  devoted  himself  to  theological  study.  In  1528  he 
returned  to  Italy  and  was  appointed  to  the  see  of  Gubbio.  His  piety  and  zeal 
for  the  welfare  of  his  flock  won  for  him  the  title  of  "father  to  the  poor  and  refuge  of 
the  distressed."  In  1539  he  was  made  a  cardinal,  and  two  years  later  died  at 
Gubbio,  being  succeeded  in  that  see  by  his  friend  Bembo.  After  his  death,  a 
discourse  of  his  on  prayer  happening  to  be  reprinted  together  with  a  work  by 
Luther,  he  was  for  a  time  erroneously  supposed  to  have  been  heretical.  He 
was  a  profound  student  of  Hebrew,  and  an  appreciative  collector  of  Provencal 
poetry.  His  own  writings  are  chiefly  doctrinal,  and  his  reputation  rests  rather 
upon  his  friends'  praise  of  his  wit,  gentleness,  personal  accomplishments  and 
learning,  than  upon  the  present  value  of  his  extant  works. 

Note  42,  page  12.  Pietro  Bembo,  (born  at  Venice  1470;  died  at  Rome  1547), 
was  the  son  of  a  noble  Venetian,  Bernardo  Bembo  (a  man  of  much  cultivation, 
who  paid  for  the  restoration  of  Dante's  tomb  at  Ravenna),  and  Elena  Marcella. 
Having  received  his  early  education  at  Florence,  where  his  father  was  Vene- 
tian ambassador,  he  studied  Greek  at  Messina  under  Lascaris  (a  native  of 
Hellas,  whose  grammar  of  that  tongue  was  the  first  Greek  book  ever  printed, 
1476),  and  philosophy  at  Padua  and  Ferrara,  where  his  father  was  Venetian 
envoy  and  introduced  him  to  the  Este  court.  Here  he  became  acquainted 
with  Lucrezia  Borgia,  who  had  recently  wedded  Duke  Ercole's  son  Alfonso, 
and  to  whom  he  dedicated  his  dialogues  on  love,  Gli  Asolani.     By  some 



writers  indeed  he  is  said  to  have  been  her  lover,  but  the  report  is  hardly  con- 
firmed by  the  character  of  the  letters  exchanged  between  the  two,  1503-1516. 
Having  been  entertained  at  Urbino  in  1505,  he  spent  the  larger  part  of  the  next 
six  years  at  that  court,  where  he  profited  by  the  fine  library,  delighted  in  many 
congenial  spirits,  and  became  the  close  friend  of  Giuliano  de'  Medici,  who  took 
him  to  Rome  in  1512  and  recommended  him  to  the  future  pope,  Leo  X.  On 
attaining  the  tiara,  Leo  at  once  appointed  him  and  his  friend  Sadoleto  (see 
note  242)  papal  secretaries,  an  office  for  which  his  learning  and  courtly  accom- 
plishments well  fitted  him.  His  laxity  of  morals  and  his  paganism  were  no 
disqualification  in  the  eyes  of  the  pope,  whom  he  served  also  in  several  diplo- 
matic missions,  and  from  whom  he  received  benefices  and  pensions  sufficient 
to  enrich  him  for  life.  In  1518  his  friend  Castiglione  sent  him  the  MS.  of  The 
Courtier,  requesting  him  to  "take  the  trouble  ...  to  read  it  either  -wholly 
or  in  part,"  and  to  give  his  opinion  of  it.  Ten  years  later,  when  the  book  was 
printed,  it  was  Bembo  to  whom  the  proofs  were  sent  for  correction,  the  author 
being  absent  in  Spain.  Even  before  the  death  of  Leo  X  in  1521,  Bembo  had 
entered  upon  a  life  of  literary  retirement  at  Padua,  where  his  library  and  art 
collection,  as  well  as  the  learned  society  that  he  drew  about  him,  rendered  his 
house  famous.  Nor  was  it  less  esteemed  by  reason  of  the  presence,  at  its  head, 
of  an  avowed  mistress  (Morosina),  who  bore  him  several  children.  After  her 
death,  he  devoted  himself  to  theology,  entered  holy  orders,  reluctantly  accepted 
a  cardinal's  hat  in  1539,  and  in  1541  succeeded  his  friend  Fregoso  in  the  bish- 
opric of  Gubbio,  to  which  was  added  that  of  Bergamo.  His  death  was  occa- 
sioned by  a  fall  from  his  horse,  and  he  was  buried  at  Rcime  in  the  Minerva 
church,  between  his  patrons  Leo  X  and  Clement  VII.  His  works  are  note- 
worthy less  for  their  substance  than  for  the  refining  influence  exerted  by  their 
form.  He  is  said  to  have  subjected  all  his  writings  to  sixteen  (some  say  forty) 
separate  revisions,  and  a  legend  survives  to  the  eff"ect  that  he  advised  a  young 
cleric  (Sadoleto)  to  avoid  reading  the  Epistles  of  St.  Paul,  lest  they  might  mar 
the  youth's  style.  His  numerous  private  and  official  letters  have  preserved 
many  valuable  facts  and  furnish  interesting  illustration  of  contemporary  man- 
ners and  character.  Humboldt  praises  him  as  the  first  Italian  author  to  write 
attractive  descriptions  of  natural  scenery,  and  cites  especially  his  dialogue 
on  Mt.  iEtna. 

Note  43,  page  12.  Cesare  Gonzaga,  (born  about  1475;  died  1512),  was  a 
native  of  Mantua,  being  descended  from  a  younger  branch  of  the  ruling  family 
of  that  city,  and  a  cousin  of  Castiglione,  with  whom  he  maintained  a  close 
friendship.  His  father's  name  was  Giampietro,  and  he  had  a  brother  Luigi. 
Having  received  a  courtly  and  martial  education  at  Milan,  and  after  spending 
some  time  with  his  relatives  at  Mantua,  he  entered  the  service  of  Duke  Guido- 
baldo  of  Urbino.  In  1504  he  shared  Castiglione's  lodgings  after  their  return 
from  a  campaign  against  Cesare  Borgia's  strongholds  in  Romagna,  and  in  the 
carnival  of  1506  they  together  recited  Castiglione's  eclogue  Tirsi,  in  the  author- 
ship of  which  he  is  by  some  credited  with  a  part.  A  graceful  canzonet,  pre- 
served in  Atanagi's  Rime  Scelte,  attests  his  skill  in  versification.    On  Guido< 


baldo's  death  in  1508,  the  two  friends  remained  in  the  service  of  the  new  duke, 
Francesco  Maria.  In  1511  Cesare  fought  bravely  against  the  French  at  Miran- 
dola,  and  the  next  year  took  part  in  the  reduction  of  Bologna,  where  he  soon 
died  of  an  acute  fever.  Little  more  is  known  of  him,  beyond  the  fact  that  he 
was  a  knight  of  St.  John  of  Jerusalem,  that  Leo  X  sent  him  on  a  mission  to 
Charles  V  of  Spain,  and  that  he  was  among  the  many  friends  of  the  famous 
Isabella  d'Este  (see  note  397). 

Note  44,  page  12.  Count  LUDOVICO  DA  Canossa,  (born  1476;  died  1532),  be- 
longed to  a  noble  Veronese  family  (still  honourably  extant),  and  was  a 
close  friend  of  Castiglione  and  a  cousin  of  the  latter's  mother.  His  boyhood 
was  passed  at  Mantua,  and  his  happiest  years  at  Urbino,  where  he  was  re- 
ceived in  1496.  In  the  pontificate  of  Julius  II  he  went  to  Rome,  and  was  made 
Bishop  of  Tricarico,  in  southern  Italy,  1511.  Under  Leo  X  he  was  entrusted 
with  several  embassies,  one  of  which  (1514)  was  to  England  to  reconcile  Henry 
VIII  with  Louis  XII,  and  another  (1515)  was  to  the  new  French  king,  Francis 
I,  at  whose  court  he  continued  to  reside,  and  through  whose  influence  he  was 
made  Bishop  of  Bayeux  in  1516.  In  1526  and  1527  he  served  as  French  ambas- 
sador to  Venice.  His  ability  and  zeal  as  a  diplomatist  are  shown  not  only 
by  the  importance  of  the  posts  that  he  held,  but  by  his  numerous  letters  that 
have  been  preserved.  At  the  time  of  his  friend  Bibbiena's  death  in  1520, 
Canossa  remarked  that  it  was  a  fixed  belief  among  the  French  that  every  man 
of  rank  who  died  in  Italy  was  poisoned. 

Note  45,  page  12.  Gaspar  Pallavicino,  (born  i486;  died  1511),  was  a  de- 
scendant of  the  marquesses  of  Cortemaggiore,  near  Piacenza.  He  appears  in 
The  Courtier  as  the  youthful  woman-hater  of  the  company,  and  was  a 
friend  of  Castiglione  and  Bembo.  For  an  interesting  discussion  of  his  rfile  in 
the  dialogues,  see  Miss  Scott's  paper,  cited  above  (page  316). 

Note  46,  page  12.  LuDOViCO  Pio  belonged  to  the  famous  family  of  the  lords 
of  Carpi  (a  few  miles  north  of  Modena),  and  was  a  brave  captain  in  the  service 
of  the  Aragonese  princes,  of  Duke  Ludovico  Sforza  of  Milan,  and  of  Pope 
Julius  II.  His  father  Leonello  and  more  celebrated  uncle  Alberto  had  been 
pupils  of  Aldus,  and  were  second  cousins  of  Emilia  Pia.  His  wife  was  the 
beautiful  Graziosa  Maggi  of  Milan,  who  is  immortalized  in  the  paintings  of 
Francia  and  the  writings  of  Bembo. 

Note  47,  page  12.  Sigismondo  Morello  da  Ortona  is  presented  in  The 
Courtier  as  the  only  elderly  member  of  the  company,  and  the  object  of  many 
youthful  jests.  He  is  known  to  have  taken  part  in  the  ceremony  of  the  formal 
adoption  of  Francesco  Maria  della  Rovere  as  heir  to  the  duchy  in  1504,  is 
referred  to  in  Castiglione's  Tirsi,  and  seems  to  have  been  something  of  a 

Note  4S,  page  12.    Of  ROBERTO  DA  BARI  little  more  is  known  than  that  his 



surname  was  MASSIMO,  and  that  he  was  taken  ill  in  the  campaign  of  1510 
against  the  Venetians  and  retired  to  Mantua.  Thither  Castiglione  sent  a  letter 
to  his  mother,  warmly  recommending  Roberto  to  her  hospitality,  and  saying 
that  he  loved  the  man  like  a  brother. 

Note  49,  page  12.  BERNARDO  ACCOLTI,  (born  about  1465;  died  1535),  was 
generally  known  as  the  Unico  Aretino,  from  the  name  of  his  birthplace 
(Arezzo)  and  in  compliment  to  his  '  unique '  faculty  for  extemporising  verse. 
His  father  Benedetto  was  a  jurist,  and  the  author  of  a  dull  Latin  history  of  the 
First  Crusade,  from  which  Tasso  is  believed  to  have  drawn  material  for  the 
Gerusaletnme  Liberata.  His  poetical  celebrity  commended  him  to  the  court 
of  Urbino,  where  (as  at  Rome  and  in  other  places)  he  was  in  the  habit  of  recit- 
ing his  verses  to  vast  audiences  of  rich  and  poor  alike.  When  an  exhibition 
by  him  was  announced,  guards  had  to  be  set  to  restrain  the  crowds  that  rushed 
to  secure  places,  the  shops  were  closed,  and  the  streets  emptied.  His  life  was 
a  kind  of  lucrative  poetic  vagabondage:  thus  we  find  him  flourishing,  caressed 
and  applauded,  at  the  courts  of  Urbino,  Mantua,  Naples,  and  especially  at  that 
of  Leo  X,  who  bestowed  many  offices  upon  him,  of  which,  however,  his  wealth 
(acquired  by  his  recitations)  rendered  him  independent,  enabling  him  to  in- 
dulge in  a  life  of  literary  ease.  His  elder  brother  Pietro  became  a  cardinal, 
bought  Raphael's  house,  and  is  said  to  have  had  a  hand  in  drafting  the  papal 
bull  against  Luther  in  1520.  He  was  an  early  patron  of  his  notorious 
fellow-townsman  Pietro  Aretino.  Such  of  his  verse  as  has  survived  is 
so  bald  and  stilted  as  to  excite  no  little  wonderment  at  the  esteem  which  he 
enjoyed  among  his  contemporaries.  In  The  Courtier  he  poses  as  the  senti- 
mental and  afflicted  lover,  the  "slayer"  of  duchesses  and  other  noble  ladies, 
who  (according  to  his  own  account)  kept  flocking  in  his  train,  but  who  more 
probably  were  often  making  sport  of  him. 

Note  50,  page  12.  Giancristoforo  Romano,  (born  about  1465;  died  1512), 
was  the  son  of  Isaia  di  Pippo  of  Pisa  and  the  pupil  of  Paolo  Romano.  Per- 
haps best  known  as  a  sculptor,  he  possessed  skill  also  as  a  goldsmith,  medallist, 
architect  and  crystal  carver,  cultivated  music  and  wrote  verse.  During  the 
last  years  of  the  Sforza  power  at  Milan,  he  accompanied  the  duke's  wife, 
Beatrice  d'Este,  from  place  to  place,  and  is  now  identified  as  the  author  of 
her  portrait  bust  in  the  Louvre.  He  executed  also  at  least  two  portrait 
medals  of  her  sister  Isabella  d'Este,  acted  as  adviser  and  agent  of  the  Gonza- 
gas  in  the  purchase  of  art  objects,  worked  at  Venice,  Cremona,  Rome  and 
Naples,  and  is  known  to  have  been  at  Urbino  about  the  time  of  the  Courtier 
dialogues.  In  a  long  letter  written  by  him  to  Bembo  in  1510,  he  describes  the 
court  of  Urbino  as  "a  true  temple  of  chastity,  decorum  and  pudicity."  In 
1512  he  was  directing  architect  at  Loreto  (see  note  311),  where  he  died  in  May, 
bequeathing  his  collection  of  medals  and  antiques  to  a  hospital,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  having  three  masses  said  weekly  for  the  repose  of  his  soul. 

Note  51,  page  12.    Of  Pietro  Monte  little  more  is  known  than  that  he  was 


a  master  of  military  exercises  at  the  Urbino  court,  and  perhaps  a  captain  in 
the  duke's  army.  He  may  have  been  identical  with  one  Pietro  dal  Monte,  who 
is  mentioned  as  a  soldier  in  the  pay  of  Venice  (1509),  and  described  as  "blind 
in  one  eye,  but  of  great  valour,  gentle  speech,  and  not  unlearned  in  letters," 
and  as  "  commanding  1500  infantry,  and  a  man  of  great  experience  not  only  in 
war  but  in  affairs  of  the  world." 

Note  52,  page  12.  ANTONIO  Maria  Terpandro,  one  of  the  most  jovial  and 
ivelcome  visitors  at  Urbino,  is  said  by  Dennistoun  to  have  been  a  musical 
ornament  of  the  court  He  enjoyed  the  heartiest  friendship  of  Bembo  and 

Note  53,  page  12.  NiCCOLb  Frisio  or  Frigio  is  mentioned  in  a  letter  by 
Bembo  as  a  German,  but  seems  more  probably  to  have  been  an  Italian.  Den- 
nistoun speaks  of  him  as  a  musician.  In  a  letter  from  Castiglione  to  his 
mother  {1506),  the  writer  warmly  commends  to  her  "one  messer  Niccol6 
Frisio,  who  I  hear  is  there  [i.e.,  in  Mantua],  and  I  earnestly  hope  that  you  will 
treat  him  kindly,  for  I  am  under  the  greatest  obligation  to  him  with  respect  to 
my  Roman  illness.  .  .  I  am  sure  he  loves  me  well."  In  another  letter  by  a 
friend  of  Bembo,  Frisio  is  described  (1509)  as  an  Italian  long  resident  in  courts, 
sure  of  heart,  gentle,  a  good  linguist,  faithful  to  his  employers,  and  as  having 
been  used  by  Julius  II  in  negotiating  the  League  of  Cambray  against  Venice. 
He  had  relations  also  with  the  marchioness  Isabella  of  Mantua  (see  note  397), 
whom  he  aided  in  the  collection  of  antiquities.  Growing  weary  of  worldly 
life,  he  became  a  monk  in  1510,  and  retired  to  the  Certosa  of  Naples. 

Note  54,  page  12.  According  to  Cian,  omini piacevoli  (rendered  'agreeable 
men')  here  means  'buffoons.' 

Note  55,  page  13.  This  passage  establishes  the  date  of  the  first  dialogue  as 
8  March  1507. 

Note  56,  page  13.  My  lady  Emilia  contends  that  she  has  already  told  her 
choice  of  a  game,  in  proposing  that  the  rest  of  the  company  should  tell  theirs. 

Note  57,  page  14.  COSTANZA  Fregosa  was  a  sister  of  the  two  Fregoso 
brothers  already  mentioned,  and  a  faithful  companion  of  the  Duchess  of 
Urbino.  She  married  Count  Marcantonio  Landi  of  Piacenza,  and  bore  him 
two  worthy  children,  Agostino  and  Caterina,  to  the  former  of  whom  Bembo 
stood  sponsor  and  became  a  kind  of  second  father.  Three  letters  by  the  lady 
have  been  preserved. 

Note  58,  page  15.  Belief  in  the  efficacy  ot  music  as  a  cure  for  the  bite  of  the 
tarantula  still  survives  in  Andalusia,  Sardinia  and  parts  of  southern  Italy.  In 
a  note  on  the  tarantella  dance,  Goethe  wrote:  "It  has  been  remarked  that  in 
the  case  of  mental  ailments,  and  of  a  tarantula  bite,  which  is  probably  cured 



by  perspiration,  the  movements  of  this  dance  have  a  very  salutary  effect  on 
the  softer  sex."    "Travels  in  Italy"  (Ed.  Bohn,  1883),  page  564. 

Note  59,  page  15.  The  moresca  (mime  or  morris-dance)  seems  to  have  been 
a  kind  of  ballet  or  story  in  dance,  often  very  intricate  and  fanciful.  At  the 
courts  of  this  period,  it  was  generally  introduced  as  an  interlude  between 
the  acts  of  a  comedy.  In  a  letter  quoted  by  Dennistoun  ("  Memoirs  of  the 
Dukes  of  Urbino,"  ii,  141),  Castiglione  describes  a  moresca  on  the  story  of 
Jason,  which  was  thus  performed  at  the  first  presentation  of  Bibbiena's 
Calandra  before  the  court  of  Urbino,  6  February  1513. 

Note  60,  page  16.  Fra  Mariano  Fetti,  (born  1460;  died  1531),  was  a  native 
of  Florence,  and  beginning  life  as  a  barber  to  Lorenzo  de'  Medici,  always  re- 
mained faithful  to  that  family.  At  Rome,  during  the  pontificate  of  Julius  II, 
he  won  the  reputation  and  enjoyed  the  privileges  of  "the  prince  of  jesters," 
and  became  even  more  famous  under  Leo  X,  upon  whom  as  a  child  he  had 
bestowed  affectionate  care,  and  who  as  pope  did  not  forget  his  kindness. 
Thus  in  1514  he  was  made  Frate  piombatore,  or  affixer  of  lead  seals  to  papal 
bulls,  in  which  office  he  followed  the  architect  Bramante,  was  succeeded  by 
the  painter  Sebastiano  Luciani  (better  known  as  "del  Piombo"),  and  admitted 
earning  yearly  what  would  now  be  the  equivalent  of  about  £'1600,  by  turning 
lead  into  gold.  While  it  remains  uncertain  whether  he  was  more  buffoon  or 
friar,  he  had  a  great  love  for  artists,  and  even  composed  verse.  He  seems  to 
have  continued  in  the  enjoyment  of  fame  and  favour  during  the  reign  of  the 
second  Medicean  pope,  Clement  VII. 

Note  61,  page  16.  Fra  Serafino  was  probably  a  Mantuan,  and  had  a  bro- 
ther Sebastiano.  He  lived  long  at  the  Gonzaga  court,  where  he  was  employed 
in  organizing  festivals,  and  at  Urbino,  where  the  few  of  his  letters  that  have 
survived  show  him  in  familiar  relations  with  other  interlocutors  in  THE 
Courtier.  While  at  Rome  in  1507,  with  the  suite  of  the  Duchess  of  Urbino, 
he  was  seriously  wounded  in  the  head  by  an  unknown  assailant,  probably  in 
return  for  some  lampoon  or  scandal  of  his  against  the  papal  court. 

Note  62,  page  17.  This  letter  S  vvas  evidently  one  of  the  golden  ciphers  that_ 
^adies  of  the  period  were  fogd  pf  wcjaring  on  a  circlet  about  their  heads.  In 
her  portrait  the  duchess  is  represented  as  wearing  a  narrow  band,  from  which 
the  image  of  a  scorpion  hangs  upon  her  forehead.  The  S  may  have  been  used 
on  this  occasion  as  the  initial  letter  of  the  wprd.j§corpion,  and  seems  in  any 
case  to  have  been  an  instance  of  the  'devices'  mentioned  in  note  40. 

A  sonnet,  purporting  to  be  the  work  of  the  Unico  Aretino,  was  inserted  in 
the  edition  of  The  Courtier  published  by  Rovillio  at  Lyons  in  1562  and 
in  several  later  editions,  as  being  the  sonnet  here  mentioned.  In  its  place, 
however,  Cian  prints  another  sonnet,  preserved  in  the  Marciana  Library  at 
Venice  and  possessing  higher  claims  to  authenticity.  Some  idea  of  the  bald- 
ness of  both  may  be  gained  from  the  following  crude  but  tolerably  literal 
translation  of  the  second  sonnet: 



Consent,  O  Sea  of  beauty  and  virtue, 
That  1,  thy  slave,  may  of  great  doubt  be  freed, 
Whether  the  S  thou  wearest  on  thy  candid  brow 
Signifies  my  Suffering  or  my^Sglvation, 
^■^^hether  it  means  ^Succour  or  Servitude, 
Suspicion  or  Security,  Secret  or  Silliness, 
tN^hether  'Spectation  or  Shriek,  whether  Safe  or  Sepultured! 
Whether  my  bonds  be  Strait  or  Severed : 

For  much  I  fear  lest  it  give  Sign 
Of  Stateliness,  Sighing,  Severity, 
Scorn,  Slash,  Sweat,  Stress  and  Spite. 

But  if  for  naked  truth  a  place  there  be, 

his  S  shows  with  no  little  art 

Sun  single  in  beauty  and  in  cruelty. 


Note  63,  page  18.  The  pains  of  love  were  a  frequent  theme  with  Bembo, 
and  are  elaborately  set  forth  in  his  Gli  Asolani.  Quite  untranslatable  into 
English,  his  play  upon  the  words  amove  (love)  and  amaro  (bitter)  is  at  least  as 
old  as  Plautus's  Trinummns. 

Note  64,  page  22.  Ippolito  D'Este,  (born  1479;  died  1520),  was  the  third 
son  of  Duke  Ercole  I  of  Ferrara  (see  note  203)  and  Eleanora  of  Aragon  (see 
note  399).  At  the  instance  of  his  maternal  aunt  Beatrice's  husband,  King 
Matthias  Corvinus  of  Hungary  (see  note  395),  he  was  given  the  rich  archbish- 
opric of  Strigonio,  to  which  was  attached  the  primacy  of  that  country,  and 
made  the  journey  thither  as  a  mere  boy.  In  1493  Alexander  VI  made  him  a 
cardinal.  Soon  after  the  death  of  his  sister  Beatrice,  her  husband  Duke 
Ludovico  Sforza  of  Milan  gave  him  the  vacant  archbishopric  of  that  city,  and 
the  same  year  (1497)  he  exchanged  the  Hungarian  primacy,  with  its  burden- 
some requirement  of  foreign  residence,  for  the  bishopric  of  Agria  in  Crete. 
In  1502  he  was  made  Archbishop  of  Capua  in  the  kingdom  of  Naples,  but 
bestowed  the  revenues  of  the  see  upon  his  widowed  and  impoverished  aunt, 
the  ex-Queen  of  Hungary,  and  a  little  later  was  made  Bishop  of  Ferrara, —  all 
before  reaching  the  age  of  twenty-four  years.  He  was  also  Bishop  of  Modena 
and  Abbot  of  Pomposa.  During  his  brother's  reign  at  Ferrara,  the  young 
cardinal  took  an  active  part  in  public  affairs,  several  times  governing  in 
the  duke's  absence,  and  showing  brilliant  capacities  for  military  command. 
After  the  accession  of  Leo  X,  he  resided  chiefly  at  Rome,  where  he  was  always 
a  conspicuous  figure  and  carefully  guarded  his  brother's  interests.  He  was  a 
friend  and  protector  of  Leonardo  da  Vinci,  and  maintained  Ariosto  in  his  ser- 
vice from  1503  to  1517.  A  prelate  only  in  name,  regarding  his  many  ecclesi- 
astical offices  merely  as  a  source  of  wealth,  he  united  the  faults  and  vices  to 
the  grace  and  culture  of  his  time. 

Note  65,  page  26.  Berto  was  probably  one  of  the  many  buffoons  about  the 
papal  court  in  the  time  of  Julius  II  and  Leo  X.  He  is  again  mentioned  in 
the  text  (page  128)  for  his  powers  of  mimicry,  etc. 

Note  66,  page  26.    This  "brave  lady"  is  by  some  identified  as  the  famous 



Caterina  Sforza,  a  natural  daughter  of  Duke  Galeazzo  Maria  Sforza  of  Milan, 
who  by  the  last  of  her  three  husbands  became  the  mother  of  the  even  more 
famous  condottiere  Giovanni  de'  Medici  delle  Bande  Nere.  She  was  born  in 
1462,  and  died  in  1509  after  a  life  of  singular  vicissitudes.  For  an  extraordinary 
story  of  her  courage,  see  Dennistoun's  "  Memoirs  of  the  Dukes  of  Urbino," 
i,  292. 

The  "  one  whom  I  will  not  name  at  present "  is  supposed  to  have  been  a 
certain  brave  soldier  of  fortune,  Caspar  Sanseverino,  who  is  often  mentioned 
as  "Captain  Fracassa,"  and  was  a  brother  of  the  Galeazzo  Sanseverino  who 
appears  a  little  later  in  The  COURTIER  (see  page  34  and  note  72). 

Note  67,  page  28.  The  philosopher  in  question  has  been  variously  identified 
as  Democritus  and  Empedocles. 

Note  68,  page  30.  In  Charles  V's  romantic  plan  for  deciding  by  single  com- 
bat his  rivalry  with  Francis  I,  Castiglione  was  selected  as  his  second,  but  de- 
clined to  violate  diplomatic  proprieties  by  accepting  the  oifer, —  being  at  the 
time  papal  envoy  at  Charles's  court. 

Note  69,  page  31.  Strictly  speaking,  the  joust  was  a  single  contest  between 
man  and  man,  while  the  tourney  was  a  sham  battle  between  two  squadrons. 
Stick-throwing  seems  to  have  been  an  equestrian  game  introduced  by  the 
Moors  into  Spain,  and  by  the  Spaniards  into  Italy.  In  the  carnival  of  1519  it 
was  played  by  two  companies  in  the  Piazza  of  St.  Peter's  before  Leo  X. 

Note  70,  page  31.  Vaulting  on  horse  seems  to  have  included  some  of  the 
feats  of  agility  with  which  modern  circus  riders  have  familiarized  us. 

Note  71,  page  33.  "Finds  grace,"  i.e.  favour:  literally  "is  grateful"  (grata) 
in  the  sense  of  acceptable  or  pleasing.  Compare  the  familiar  phrase  persona 

Note  72,  page  34.  GALEAZZO  SANSEVERINO  was  one  of  the  twelve  stalwart 
sons  of  Roberto  Sanseverino,  a  brave  condottiere  who  aided  to  place  Ludo- 
vico  Sforza  in  power  at  Milan,  rebelled  against  that  prince,  and  was  slain 
while  fighting  for  the  Venetians  in  i486.  Galeazzo  entered  the  service  of 
Ludovico,  whose  favour  had  been  attracted  by  his  personal  charm,  literary 
accomplishments  and  rare  skill  in  knightly  exercises.  ^A^hen  he  married  his 
patron's  natural  daughter  Bianca,  in  1489,  Leonardo  da  Vinci  arranged  the 
jousts  held  in  honour  of  the  wedding.  Thenceforth  he  adopted  the  names 
Visconti  and  Sforza,  and  was  treated  as  a  member  of  the  ducal  family.  In 
1496,  at  the  head  of  the  Milanese  forces,  he  besieged  the  Duke  of  Orleans 
(afterwards  Louis  XII)  at  Novara,  but  in  1500  he  was  captured  by  the  French, 
and  after  the  final  downfall  of  Ludovico  (to  whom  he  seems  to  have  remained 
creditably  loyal)  he  entered  the  service  of  Louis  XII,  who  made  him  Grand 
Equerry  in  1506.    The  duties  of  his  office  included  the  superintendence  of  all 



the  royal  stables  and  of  an  academy  for  the  martial  education  of  young  men 
of  noble  family.  For  a  further  account  of  his  interesting  life,  and  especially 
of  his  friendship  with  Isabella  d'Este,  see  Mrs.  Henry  Ady's  recent  volume, 
"  Beatrice  d'Este,  Duchess  of  Milan." 

Note  73,  page  35.  The  word  spresaatura  (rendered  "nonchalance")  could 
hardly  have  been  new  to  Castiglione's  contemporaries,  at  least  in  its  primary 
meaning  of  disprizement  or  contempt.  He  may,  however,  have  been  among 
the  first  to  use  it  (as  here  and  elsewhere  in  The  Courtier)  in  its  modified 
sense  of  unconcern  or  nonchalance.  Compare  Herrick's  'wild  civility'  in  "Art 
above  Nature"  and  "Delight  in  Disorder." 

Note  74,  page  37.  Naturally  Venice  could  hardly  be  a  place  well  suited  for 
horsemanship;  its  citizens'  awkward  riding  was  a  favourite  subject  of  ridicule 
in  the  i6th  century. 

Note  75,  page  37.  The  incident  is  supposed  to  have  occurred  on  the  occasion 
of  a  visit  paid  by  Apelles  to  Rhodes  not  long  after  the  death  (323  B.C.)  of  Alex- 
ander the  Great,  whom  he  had  accompanied  into  Asia  Minor.  Apelles  was 
eager  to  meet  Protogenes,  and  on  landing  in  Rhodes  went  at  once  to  the 
painter's  house.  Protogenes  was  absent,  but  a  large  panel  stood  ready  for 
painting.  Apelles  took  a  pencil  and  drew  an  exceedingly  fine  coloured  line, 
by  which  Protogenes  on  his  return  immediately  recognized  who  his  visitor 
had  been,  and  in  turn  drew  a  finer  line  of  another  colour  upon  or  within  the 
first  line.  When  Apelles  saw  this  line,  he  added  a  third  line  still  further  sub- 
dividing the  one  drawn  by  Protogenes.  Later  the  panel  was  carried  to  Rome, 
where  it  long  excited  wondering  admiration  in  the  Palace  of  the  Caesars,  with 
which  it  was  finally  destroyed  by  fire.  Apelles  was  the  first  to  stimulate 
appreciation  of  the  merits  of  Protogenes  by  buying  several  of  the  latter's  works 
at  enormous  prices:  he  maintained  however  that  he  excelled  Protogenes  in 
knowing  when  to  cease  elaborating  his  paintings. 

Note  76,  page  37.  The  play  upon  words  here  is  untranslatable  into  English. 
The  Italian  tavola  stands  equally  well  for  a  dining-table  and  for  the  tablet  or 
panel  upon  which  pictures  were  painted. 

Note  77,  page  40.  '  As  those  who  speak  [are  present]  before  those  who  speak ' 
is  a  literal  translation  of  the  accepted  reading  of  this  passage.  It  is  perhaps 
worth  noting,  however,  that  the  earliest  translator  (Boscan)  ventures  to  de- 
viate from  the  letter  of  the  Italian  text  for  the  sake  of  rendering  what  surely 
must  have  been  the  author's  meaning:  cotno  los  que  hablan  d  aquellos  con  qtiien 
hablan,  i.e.  "as  those  who  speak  [are  present]  before  those  with  whom  they 

Note  78,  page  41.  Although  the  dialect  of  Bergamo  was  (and  still  is)  ridi- 
culed as  rude  and  harsh,  it  possessed  a  copious  popular  literature. 



Note  79,  page  41.  FRANCESCO  Petrarca  or  Petrarch,  (born  1304;  died 
1374)1  belonged  to  a  family  that  was  banished  from  Florence  at  the  same  time 
with  Dante,  whom  he  remembered  seeing  in  his  childhood.  He  was  the  first 
Italian  of  his  time  to  appreciate  the  value  of  public  libraries,  to  collect  coins 
and  inscriptions  as  sources  of  accurate  historical  information,  and  to  urge  the 
preservation  of  ancient  monuments.  Had  he  never  written  a  line  of  verse,  he 
would  still  be  venerated  as  the  apostle  of  scholarship,  as  the  chief  originator 
of  humanistic  impulses  based  upon  what  Symonds  describes  as  "  a  new  and 
vital  perception  of  the  dignity  of  man  considered  as  a  rational  being  apart  from 
theological  determinations,  and  .  .  .  the  further  perception  that  classic  litera- 
ture alone  displayed  human  nature  in  the  plenitude  of  intellectual  and  moral 

Note  80,  page  41.  In  an  age  when  grammatical  and  rhetorical  treatises,  in 
the  modern  sense  of  the  word,  hardly  existed,  it  was  natural  that  the  study  of 
classic  models  should  take  the  form  of  imitation. 

Note  81,  page  42.  It  will  be  remembered  that  Giuliano  de'  Medici  was  a 
native  Tuscan. 

Note  82,  page  43.  This  Tuscan  triumvirate  was  called  "the  three  Floren- 
tine crowns:"  Dante,  Petrarch  and  Boccaccio. 

Note  83,  page  44.  EVANDER  was  a  mythical  son  of  Hermes,  supposed  to 
have  founded  a  colony  on  the  Tiber  before  the  Trojan  War.  TURNUS  was  a 
legendary  king  of  an  Italian  tribe,  who  was  slain  by  ^ffineas. 

Note  84,  page  44.  The  Salian  priests  were  attached  to  the  worship  of  Mars 
Gradivus.  On  the  occasion  of  their  annual  festival,  they  went  in  procession 
through  Rome,  carrying  the  sacred  shields  of  which  they  were  custodians 
and  which  they  beat  in  accompaniment  to  dance  and  song.  The  words  of 
their  chaunts  are  said  to  have  become  unintelligible  even  to  themselves,  and 
appear  to  have  set  forth  a  kind  of  theogony  in  praise  of  all  the  celestial  deities 
(excepting  Venus),  and  especially  of  one  Mamurius  Veturius,  who  is  by  some 
regarded  as  identical  with  Mars. 

Note  85,  page  44.  Marcus  Antonius  (143-87  B.C.)  and  LICINIUS  Crassus 
(14&-91  B.C.),  the  two  most  famous  orators  of  early  Rome,  were  regarded  by 
Cicero  as  having  been  the  first  to  rival  their  Greek  predecessors.  QuiNTUS 
HORTENSIUS  Hortalus  (114-50  B.C.),  the  great  advocate  of  the  aristocratic 
party  at  Rome,  yielded  the  palm  of  oratory  only  to  Cicero  (106-43  B.C.). 
Marcus  Porcius  Cato  (234-149  B.C.),  a  Roman  soldier,  author  and  reform- 
ing statesman,  sought  to  restore  the  ancient  purity  and  simplicity  of  the 
earlier  republic.  QuiNTUS  Ennius  (239-169  B.C.),  a  Roman  epic  poet  and 
annalist,  imparted  to  the  language  and  literature  of  his  nation  much  of  the 
impulse  that  affected  their  growth  for  centuries.  ViRGIL  was  born  70  B.C., 
and  died  19  B.C. 



Note  86,  page  44.  Horace  was  born  65  B.C.,  and  died  8  B.C.  Plautus 
died  184  B.C. 

Note  87,  page  44.  Sergius  Sulpicius  Galea  was  Roman  Consul  144  B.C.; 
Cicero  praised  his  oratory,  but  found  it  more  old-fashioned  than  that  of 
Laelius  {flor.  200  B.C.)  and  Scipio  Africanus  the  Younger  (died  129  B.C.). 

Note  88,  page  46.  In  his  Prose,  Bembo  says  that  courtly  Italian,  especially 
during  the  pontificate  of  the  Spaniard,  Alexander  VI  (1492-1503),  was  full  of 
Spanish  expressions, —  an  assertion  amply  confirmed  by  contemporary  letters, 
which  are  rich  also  in  Gallicisms. 

Note  89,  page  46.  The  Spanish  primor  has  failed  to  win  Italian  citizenship. 
Aaenturare  has  become  naturalized  in  Italy;  as  also  have  acertare  (in  the 
sense,  however,  of  to  assure,  to  make  certain,  to  verify),  ripassare  (to  repass, 
to  repeat,  to  rebuff),  rimproccio  or  rimprovero,  and  attilato  or  attillato,  which 
is  recognizable  in  the  Spanish  atildado.  Creato  (Spanish  criado)  is  now  re- 
placed by  creatura  in  the  sense  mentioned  in  the  text;  in  Sicily  creato  is  used 
to  mean  servant. 

Note  90,  page  47.  The  reference  here  is  of  course  to  the  Attic,  Doric,  Ionic 
and  ^olic  dialects. 

Note  91,  page  47.  TiTUS  LIVIUS  was  born  at  Padua  59  B.C.,  and  died  there 
17  A.D.  Of  the  one  hundred  and  forty-two  books  of  his  History  (which  cov- 
ered the  period  from  the  founding  of  Rome  in  750  B.C.  down  to  9  B.C.,  and  upon 
which  he  spent  forty  years  of  his  life),  only  thirty-five  have  survived,  together 
with  an  anonymous  summary  of  the  whole. 

Note  92,  page  48.  Of  the  four  forms  here  condemned  by  Castiglione  as  cor- 
rupt, three  {Campidoglio ,  Girolamo,  and  padrone)  have  become  firmly  estab- 
lished in  Italian.  Campidoglio  had  been  used  by  Petrarch  {Trionfo  d'Amore, 
i,  14), —  an  "old"  but  certainly  not  an  "ignorant"  Tuscan. 

Note  93,  page  49.  Oscan  was  a  pre-Roman  language  spoken  by  the  Opici, 
an  Italian  tribe  inhabiting  the  Campanian  coast.  Much  of  the  mist  that 
shrouded  it  for  centuries  has  now  been  dispelled  by  the  epigraphists.  Both 
Dante  and  Petrarch  were  great  lovers  of  Proven9al,  with  which  in  Castiglione's 
time  his  friend  Federico  Fregoso  was  familiar. 

Note  94,  page  50.  BiDON  was  a  native  of  Asti,  and  one  of  the  most  famous 
choristers  in  the  service  of  Leo  X. 

Note  95,  page  50.  Marchetto  Cara,  a  native  of  Verona,  entered  the  service 
of  the  Gonzagas  in  1495  and  lived  nearly  thirty  years  at  Mantua,  where  he 
was  made  a  citizen  by  the  Marquess  Federico.     He  frequented  also  the  court 



of  Urbino,  and  is  known  to  have  been  sent  by  the  Marchioness  Isabella  to  re- 
lieve the  tedium  of  her  friend  and  sister-in-law  the  Duchess  Elisabetta's  exile 
at  Venice  in  1503.  In  his  time  he  was  among  the  most  prolific  and  successful 
composers  of  profane  music,  especially  of  ballads  and  madrigals,  and  a  num- 
ber of  his  popular  pieces  have  been  preserved. 

Note  96,  page  50.  LEONARDO  DA  ViNCI,  (born  1452;  died  1519),  was  the 
natural  son  of  a  notary,  Pietro  Antonio,  of  the  village  of  Vinci,  situated  about 
fourteen  miles  east  of  Florence.  He  studied  some  three  years  with  Donatello's 
pupil  Verocchio  at  Florence.  Meeting  small  pecuniary  success  there,  he  re- 
moved to  Milan  about  1483  and  entered  the  service  of  Duke  Ludovico  Sforza, 
who  is  said  to  have  paid  him  the  equivalent  of  ;f4000  a  year  while  painting 
the  "Last  Supper,"  and  for  whom  he  completed  in  1493  the  model  of  a  co- 
lossal equestrian  statue  of  Duke  Francesco  Sforza,  never  executed  in  perma- 
nent form.  He  was  employed  by  Cesare  Borgia  as  military  engineer,  and  in 
that  capacity  visited  Urbino  in  July  1502.  His  famous  portrait  known  as  the 
"  Monna  Lisa  "  or  "  La  Gioconda,"  upon  which  he  worked  at  times  for  four  years, 
was  finished  about  1504  and  afterwards  sold  by  him  to  Francis  I.  In  1507,  he 
had  been  appointed  painter  to  Louis  XII,  but  did  not  visit  France  until  1516. 
On  the  election  of  Leo  X  in  1513,  he  journeyed  to  Rome  in  the  company  and 
service  of  Giuliano  de'  Medici,  who  paid  him  a  monthly  stipend  of  £'66.  Al- 
though he  was  received  with  favour  by  the  new  pope  and  lodged  in  the  Vati- 
can, his  stay  in  Rome  was  artistically  unprolific,  his  interest  at  the  time  being 
chiefly  confined  to  chemistry  and  physics,  and  nature  attracting  him  more 
than  antiquities,  of  which  he  spoke  as  "this  old  rubbish"  {quest e  ant icaglie). 
Three  years  before  his  death  he  was  visited  at  Amboise  in  France  by  Cardinal 
Ludovico  of  Aragon,  who  is  mentioned  later  in  The  Courtier  (p.  159),  and 
whose  secretary  left  an  interesting  account  of  an  interview  with  him,  describ- 
ing the  painter  as  then  disabled  by  paralysis  of  the  hand. 

Note  97,  page  50.  Andrea  Mantegna,  (born  1431;  died  1506),  was  a  native 
of  Vicenza  and  probably  of  humble  origin.  When  a  mere  child  he  became 
the  pupil  and  adopted  son  of  the  noted  painter  and  instructor,  Francesco 
Squarcione  of  Padua,  and  was  soon  enrolled  in  the  painters'  guild  of  that  city. 
In  1449  he  began  painting  for  the  d'Este  at  Ferrara,  and  between  1453  and  1459 
he  married  Niccolosa,  a  daughter  of  Squarcione's  rival  Giacopo  Bellini,  and 
sister  of  the  more  famous  brothers  Gentile  and  Giovanni  Bellini.  He  painted 
also  at  Verona,  and  about  1460  entered  the  service  of  the  Gonzagas  at  Mantua, 
where  the  remainder  of  his  life  was  chiefly  spent,  although  he  worked  for  Pope 
Innocent  VIII  at  Rome  about  the  year  1488,  before  which  date  he  was  knighted 
by  the  Marquess  of  Mantua.  By  one  writer  he  is  affirmed  to  have  cast  the 
fine  bust  which  ornaments  his  tomb  at  Mantua,  and  which  is  said  once  to 
have  had  diamond  eyes.  He  is  known  to  have  understood  bronze  casting, 
and  besides  the  brush  and  the  engraver's  burin,  he  handled  modelling  tools, 
while  a  sonnet  of  his  has  been  preserved.  Although  praised  by  Vasari  as 
kindly  and  in  every  way  estimable,  he  is  shewn  by  contemporary  letters  to 


have  been  rather  irritable  and  litigious  in  private  life.  Albert  Dvirer  tells  us 
that  one  of  the  keenest  disappointments  of  his  life  was  occasioned  by  the  great 
painter's  death  before  he  was  able  to  make  an  intended  journey  to  Mantua  for 
the  purpose  of  visiting  Mantegna. 

Note  98,  page  50.  Raffaello  Santi  or  Sanzi, — euphonized  by  Bembo  as 
Sanzio, — (born  1483;  died  1520),  was  a  native  of  Urbino  and  the  son  of  Giovanni 
Santi  and  Magia  Ciarla.  The  father  was  himself  a  painter  of  no  mean  skill, 
and  wrote  a  quaint  rhymed  chronicle  of  the  Duchy  of  Urbino,  which  is  pre- 
served in  the  Vatican  and  contains  much  interesting  information.  Having  lost 
both  parents  when  he  had  reached  the  age  of  eleven  years,  and  probably  hav- 
ing first  studied  at  Urbino  under  Timoteo  della  Vite,  Raphael  was  sent  by  a 
maternal  uncle  to  the  studio  of  Perugino  at  Perugia.  The  rest  of  his  short 
life  was  an  unbroken  course  of  happy  labour  and  brilliant  success.  In  1499 
he  seems  to  have  been  at  Urbino  for  the  purpose  of  arranging  for  the  welfare 
of  a  sister,  and  again  in  1504,  when,  after  executing  several  works  (including, 
it  is  believed,  portraits  of  the  duke  and  duchess)  for  the  ducal  family,  he  went 
to  Florence  with  a  letter  of  commendation  from  Guidobaldo's  sister.  From 
1504  to  1508  he  resided  chiefly  at  Florence,  although  he  again  visited  Urbino 
twice,  just  before  and  probably  soon  after  the  date  of  the  Courtier  dialogues. 
His  friendship  with  so  many  members  of  the  Urbino  court  (Giuliano  de'  Medici, 
Bibbiena,  Bembo,  Canossa,  and  Castiglione),  and  even  his  acquaintance  with 
Julius  II,  probably  began  during  these  later  visits  to  his  native  city.  In  1508 
he  was  called  to  Rome  by  Julius,  and  resided  there  until  his  death.  On  suc- 
ceeding Bramante  as  architect  of  St.  Peter's  in  1514,  he  wrote  to  Castiglione: 
"Sir  Count:  I  have  made  drawings  in  several  manners  according  to  your  sug- 
gestion, and  if  everyone  does  not  flatter  me,  I  am  satisfying  everyone;  but  I 
do  not  satisfy  my  own  judgment,  because  I  dread  not  satisfying  yours.  I  am 
sending  them  to  you.  Pray  choose  any  of  them,  if  you  deem  any  worthy. 
Our  Lord  [i.e.  Leo  X]  in  honouring  me  has  put  a  great  burden  on  my  shoul- 
ders,— that  is,  the  charge  of  the  fabric  of  St.  Peter's.  I  hope,  however,  not  to 
fall  under  it;  and  the  more  so,  because  the  model  I  have  made  for  it  pleases 
his  Holiness  and  is  praised  by  many  choice  spirits;  but  in  thought  I  soar  still 
higher.  I  fain  would  renew  the  beautiful  forms  of  ancient  buildings,  but  know 
not  whether  my  flight  will  be  that  of  Icarus.  Vitruvius  affords  me  much  light 
on  the  subject,  but  less  than  I  need.  As  to  Galatea,  I  should  hold  myself  a 
great  master  if  she  possessed  half  the  fine  things  you  write  me;  but  in  your 
words  I  recognize  the  love  you  bear  me:  and  I  tell  you  that  to  paint  one  beau- 
tiful woman,  I  should  need  to  see  several  beautiful  women  and  to  have  you 
with  me  to  choose  the  best.  But  as  there  is  dearth  of  good  judgments  and  of 
beautiful  women,  I  am  using  a  certain  idea  that  has  occurred  to  my  mind. 
Whether  this  has  any  artistic  excellence  in  it,  I  know  not, —  but  I  am  striving 
for  it.  Command  me."  Passavant  affirms  that  the  'drawings'  mentioned  at 
the  beginning  of  this  letter  were  designs  for  a  medal  that  Castiglione  meant 
to  wear.  Raphael  is  said  to  have  painted  two  portraits  of  Castiglione,  one  of 
which  (1516)